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I'm considering doing online surveys from companies such as YouGov, that pay you for each survey you complete, but I would like to know more about how taxes work, so I've got a few questions.

  1. Are they classed as income? I assume they are.
  2. Do I need to register as self-employed? This is what is says on MoneySavingExpert.
  3. When are they classed as income? Most companies only seem to pay out when you earn a certain amount, but does it count as income when you get the money, or when you complete the survey?
  4. Do the answers change if I get nectar points, or vouchers, or other reward points, instead of cash? I assume they are treated as cash.
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If you get money other than through employment, you should register as self-employed.

Usually, the money counts as income when you send a bill (and it's a bit complicated if the bill doesn't get paid). But in this kind of situation, I don't think anyone cares too much if the amount of money isn't too much, and counting in when you get the money should be fine. It's only of any importance to decide in which year you pay the tax - say you send a bill on March 30th and get the money end of April, you'd have to pay tax in the previous tax year.

I doubt that vouchers would count as cash, until you exchange them for cash.

Worst case, if you call the tax office and ask them "I made £2,000, how can I pay tax for it" instead of just putting the money in your pocket, they will be happy to get your money and be just helpful and forgive all your sins.

You should have a look at www.hmrc.gov.uk for all details; it's quite easy to understand. Keep all the papers related to your income and especially any papers related to expenses that you want to deduct in a safe place. And then you just have a few additional forms in your annual self assessment.

  • This doesn't seem very specific to survey websites. They don't involve sending bills at all, you just request payment on the website. Also, ideally I was looking for some reliable sources (for example, that vouchers aren't treated as cash, as that seems like it would be a major loophole in the tax system). – Silverfish Dec 30 '14 at 17:34
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    Do you think the UK tax code mentions survey websites? I don't think so. "Request payment" is the same as sending a bill. For "reliable sources", ask a tax advisor. – gnasher729 Jan 30 '15 at 12:59
  • This comment was made when I offered a bounty, to explain why I didn't accept it. I was still hoping someone would have specific knowledge of how the taxation for surveys works, as I wanted to verify the information from money-saving expert. This answer has nothing that wouldn't apply to any self-employment. Talking about bills rather than requesting payments is one example of that: It's hard to trust an answer that uses terms that don't apply. I was specifically looking for sources about the claim that payment in nectar points/etc is not taxable, as that seems like a large loophole. – Silverfish Jan 30 '15 at 19:35
  • For reference that would be the sort of thing I would put in the "other information" in my tax return. While I am 100% sure that it IS taxable if paid in Nectar points (otherwise bankers would get their bonus paid in Nectar points, you can guarantee it) if it's just a few pounds you are talking about then they are unlikely to care. – Vicky Mar 2 '15 at 19:26
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You probably should declare but in reality you won't be taxed as it mostly will be nowhere near the personal tax allowance. On a self employment view, the definition seems to include trading and businesses (e.g. trades person, flower selling business etc where you are a sole trader). Infact many self employed don't reach the tax allowance anyway depending on the work they do. Online surveys in a wide definition sense isn't a job (aren't a regular income to sustain someone) as much more on the side earning as a top up

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In the US this would fall under the "miscellaneous income" category, which also covers hobby income and the like. Obviously this isn't a direct answer, but I hope it gets you pointed in the right direction.

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