Tax Return for Mystery Shoppers

If you do a lot of shopping, freelancing as a mystery shopper for retailers, regulators, or other companies, is a good way to use your experiences to make some extra cash. Mystery shoppers go in to a shop, acting as a normal customer, to analyse the quality of service. You’ll most often be hired by the particular company you’re judging so that they can use the information you give them to improve their service.

Making some extra cash as a mystery shopper

Most people aren’t able to become full-time mystery shoppers, so you should see it as a way to make some extra cash rather than as a career option.

How to find mystery shopper assignments

To find mystery shopper assignments, it’s typical to join a mystery shopper agency. A simple Google search for mystery shopper agencies will show that many exist. Once you give them your details, they’ll contact you whenever suitable assignments come up. You’ll have the freedom to choose whether you want to take a particular assignment.

Possible mystery shopper assignments

Freelancing as a mystery shopper will give you a variety of interesting opportunities. The tasks you could be given will vary in length depending on the particular company you’ll be reviewing. A mystery shopper task could include anything from a phone call or restaurant visit, to a stay in a hotel, or even a plane flight You won’t always be paid in money – extras and benefits Not all mystery shopper assignments will be paid in cash. Instead, you’ll sometimes be given free things based on the particular job.For example, if you’re reviewing a shop, you’ll be able to keep the items received through the job. This all depends on the job, which you’ll be told about for beginning the assignment.

Qualities that make a good mystery shopper

Though mystery shopper assignments are varied, they all require some common qualities and skills:

  • Good literacy skills: You’ll need to write reports, so a decent standard of writing skills is important.
  • Sticking to deadlines: Most assignments need to be completed within 24 hours.
  • Observational skills: You need keen senses to give the best representation of your experience as possible.
  • Good memory: If you walk around with a notebook, staff will work out what you’re doing, and you won’t get an accurate sense of a normal experience.
  • The ability to act normal: To do your job as a mystery shopper properly, you’ll have to make staff think you’re a just a normal customer.

Accounting as a freelance mystery shopper

There are various benefits to freelancing as a mystery shopper, from the freedom and flexibility to work with a variety of businesses and individuals to more take-home pay. But there is one downside – accounting. As a full-time employee, your tax is usually taken care of on your behalf in the form of PAYE.
As a freelancer you’ll have to keep a range of financial records and then prepare and pay a Self-Assessment tax return at the end of each business year. Accountancy can be very confusing and can distract you from your mystery shopper assignments.

Getting tax and accountancy advice

With most accountants, you’ll pay them to do your year-end accounts, and then they’ll forget about you until the next year. But for your business to be run smoothly and successfully, you’ll need advice on tax and accountancy throughout the year, especially in the early days.

Citi Accounts is different

Citi Accounts provides an affordable and specialist accountancy service designed just for freelancers. Throughout the year we’ll be on hand to give you any tax and accountancy advice you might need, including things like:

  • Take-home pay
  • Which VAT scheme to register for
  • Expenses
  • Tax allowances
  • Choosing between sole trader and limited company
  • Running your business in a tax-efficient way

We charge for our accountancy services in a clear and simple way, which means you’ll never receive an unexpected bill, and you can get in touch for advice whenever you want without the worry of being charged a fortune like you would with many other accountants.