David Malcolm (Student Finance Policy Officer) gives expert video advice on: Should I work during term time?; How much money do I have to earn to be eligible to pay income tax?; Do I have to pay tax if I'm only working during the holidays? and more...
Should I get a job?
Whether or not you should get a job will depend on your personal circumstances. Some courses are more intensive than others. For example, with a medicine degree, you might be required to be in classes from nine to five, six, or even later, and then have lots of coursework. You as a medic may find it more difficult therefore, to do part-time work, than if you were doing an arts course, with less class time. Whether you should get a job will depend on your amount of free time, and obviously whether or not you feel that you need the money. However, if you are finding it difficult to balance your course and the prospect or the actual undertaking of part-time work, you might want to speak to your student advisor in your student's union or your university or college about how you could get funds from other sources, or how they can help you.
Should I work during term time?
Whether or not you should work during term time will be a matter for you to decide. Some courses will be more intensive; will have more hours that you are required to do during the day in your course work, and you therefore might find it more difficult to manage part-time work in addition to that. However, other courses might have less class time, or more coursework, and you'll find it easier to fit more part-time work around. Also, it depends on whether you need the money or not, and there are lots of circumstances to take into account there. However, if you feel that you get into financial difficulty and the work that you are doing is the work that you might have to do, then part-time work might get into the way of things and might make it difficult. Then, speak to a student advisor in a student union or the university or college to see what help that they can offer you, and advice.
How much money do I have to earn to be eligible to pay income tax?
Students aren't in any special position as regards income tax. Like everyone else they can only make a certain amount of money in a year before they have to pay income tax. In that mind, in the 2007-2008 tax year the amount you can earn without paying income tax is £5,225.
Do I have to pay tax if I'm only working during the holidays?
You may have to pay tax if you're working during the holidays. It will depend if over the course of the entire year you run over your personal allowance, which you get before you have to start paying tax. If you are only working during the summer, and although you're working full-time and are therefore taxed as if you were working full-time for the year, but you know that you'll only be working for that short amount of time and won't run over your personal allowance, then you can ask your employer to give you something called a P38(S) form which basically allows Inland Revenue, H.M. Revenue and Customs to ignore your income for tax purposes for that summer. That's something to ask your employer for.
I have earned less than my personal allowance but my employer has charged me tax - what can I do?
If you think that you aren't going to earn over your personal allowance during the tax year but you have been taxed, or you've paid more tax than you should do, you can claim that tax back from the Inland Revenue, which is more properly known as HM Revenue and Customs. They have a facility on their website for you to claim tax back, and if you go to their website they can explain how you do that.