Showing posts with label dividends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dividends. Show all posts

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dividend strategies for post April 2016

Prior to 6 April 2016, there was generally a tax advantage to extracting profits by way of dividends, often once a salary had been taken to utilise the personal allowance and ensure entitlement to certain state benefits. With the new dividend taxation regime from 6 April 2016, the tax advantage of dividends as opposed to salary / bonuses is reduced or in certain cases eliminated entirely. However, dividend planning is still important and is not as straightforward as it appears on the surface. Dividend planning strategies include cashflow and administrative ease as well as tax savings.

Many companies distribute dividends on a monthly basis as a means of providing themselves with a 'salary-like' income. In many cases it is only through habit and there is no reason that these frequent distributions shouldn't be replaced by a less frequent dividend followed by drawings against their current account with the company.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

10 Reasons why it's still worth going Limited

With the recent increase in dividend taxation, many of our clients are asking whether it still makes sense to incorporate when you are a Sole Trader. It's a tough question to answer as indeed, the tax benefits of running a business as a Limited Company have now been seriously curtailed. If you extract all of the profits from your company as they arise, the total tax and national insurance (NI) paid is now almost identical whether your are operating as a Limited Company or a Sole Trader.

There are still a number of benefits however to operate as a Limited Company. Here they are:

1. Better legal protection

As the name suggests, if you run a Limited Company, you are protected in case things go wrong. Assuming no fraud has taken place, you will not be personally liable for any financial losses made by your Limited Company. Those running a business as self employed do not enjoy such protection from financial claims if things go wrong with their business. While it's possible (and recommended) to subscribe to a professional liability insurance, there is always a risk of running foul of the fine print...

2. More professional image or status

In some industries, having a Limited Company can provide a more professional image. If you are doing business with larger companies, you may find that they prefer to deal only with Limited Companies rather than Sole Traders or even partnerships. Indeed by being transparent, adhering to regulatory requirements and opening up company accounts to public scrutiny, you are demonstrating that the business is being correctly managed and this inspires confidence.

3. Wider availability of some contracts

The reason bigger corporations do not hire Sole Traders is not just image or professionalism but IR35 risk. The IR35 regulation was put in place to prevent employees to set up shop as free-lancers just to save tax. In other words if HMRC decides that a free-lancer behaves as an employee, then he is required to pay the same amount of tax and NI as an employee would. He he does not, whoever hired him is responsible for the back tax and NI, unless he operates as limited company (and in which case that limited company is responsible). It's easy to understand then why some organisations will only deal with limited companies!

4. Name protection

Once you register your company with Companies House, your company name is protected by law. No-one else can use the same name as you, or anything deemed to be too similar. As a Sole Trader, you can use a trading name but it's not protected and there is nothing to prevent a competitor to start using the same trading name as you. While it's possible to protect a trading name with a trademark, it will be in practice a lot more expensive than just creating a company with that name.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

New clampdown on capital treatment of distributions

Starting April 6th next month, a new targeted anti-avoidance rule (TAAR) will make it more difficult to convert profits generated in a company into a capital receipt in the hands of the shareholders. Indeed, a capital distribution made in the winding-up of a company will be taxed as income if either within two years of the winding-up the shareholder continues to be involved in the same trade as that carried out by the company that has been wound-up or if profits, in excess of those required by the company, were retained in the company so that they could be received as capital on a later liquidation.

These new measures only apply to individual shareholders and close companies (broadly, companies controlled by five or fewer people) but it represents a significant tax increase where the shareholder was able to claim Entrepreneur's Relief on the gain (a jump from 10% to 38.1% if dividends are falling within the additional rate band).

More specifically, the anti-avoidance is targeted after the following behaviours:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Changes To Dividend Taxation From April 2016

You will have heard by now of the changes that were announced during the Summer Budget 2015 last month regarding dividend taxation.

To re-cap, the current proposals are to abolish the 10% tax credit on dividends from April 2016 and replace it with a new £5,000 dividend allowance. The proposals also set out the intention to change the rate at which dividends are taxed from April 2016 to the following:

  • Basic rate band: 7.5%
  • Higher rate band: 32.5%
  • Additional rate band: 38.1%

Currently the effective rates are 0% in the basic rate band, 25% in the higher rate band and 30.56% in the additional rate band. Since the Summer Budget last month no further information has been released, and we are still waiting for the draft legislation which may not arrive until the Autumn Statement later this year.

As it stands the information provided is very general, and the following is unknown:

  • How the dividend allowance will interact with the personal allowance
  • Whether the dividend allowance is available in full for higher and additional rate tax payers

If the proposed changes go ahead then it is clear that personal tax liabilities will increase for director/shareholders who pursue a strategy of taking a small salary and dividends to extract profit. But it's impossible at this stage to a reliable calculation.

Many people are wondering whether it still makes sense to operate as a Limited company or if it will be more tax efficient to operate as a sole trader from April 2016. However it's impossible to answer this question right now as it is rumoured that Class 4 NIC may increase, partly due to the fact that Class 2 is being abolished from April 2016. And the much publicised ‘Tax Lock’ does not apply to Class 4 NIC.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Using goodwill to save tax on incorporation

Incorporating a sole trader may happen for a number of reasons. For example you started a business on the side not sure whether it would work out and you wanted to reduce overhead costs initially. After a while the success is here and you want to make use of the lower taxes enjoyed by limited companies. Another reason could be that you had paid significant taxes prior to starting your business and because, as a sole trader you can offset trading losses against salaries in previous years, it makes sense to not incorporate right away if you know that your business will incur losses initially. Once the business starts to make a profit however, it makes sense to incorporate.

Incorporating means creating a company and having this new company of which you are the shareholder buy the existing unincorporated business from yourself. If the value of your business is say £100,000 you will make a capital gain of £100,000 and your company will have a goodwill of £100,000 on its balance sheet (assuming there are no fixed assets). Either the company pays you right away or most probably it credits the director's loan account allowing you to draw funds as they become available in the business. But why is it a good thing?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Director's Loan Accounts: beware if overdrawn

A director's loan is a loan made by a company to a director (or related party). HMRC has been trying to prevent directors to borrow money from their business because this is money they would have to draw either as salary or dividends otherwise and pay tax and NI on those amounts.

In 2010 HMRC published the Corporation Tax Act 2010 and section 455 put in place some rules to prevent the practice: if a close company makes a loan to a relevant person who is a participator in the company or an associate of such a participator and if this loan is outstanding at year end, then 25% of that loan will have to be paid under Corporation Tax to HMRC -- unless the loan is reimbursed before tax is due (usually 9 months after the year end). Moreover, if at any point in time, the loan balance is above £5,000 the whole loan becomes a benefit in kind for the director.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How about the CSG and the CRDS?

If you have some French property investments, you might have noticed in 2012 the apparition of new taxes called CSG, CRDS, Financement du RSA or Solidarité Autonomie. All those are actually social charges and even though they been in existence for a while, in the past non-residents were exempt (since they don't use any of the French social infrastructure).

With the arrival of François Hollande and his socialist team, those deductions have been extended to all types of income (rental income, capital gains and dividends) and for residents and non-residents alike. What it means is if you sell a house in France you will have to pay the 19% capital gain plus the 15.5% social charges on the gain. And in some cases (if your capital gain is above €50,000) yet another exceptional tax that can reach 6% of the capital gain (if your gain is above €260,000). That's a total of more than 50%.

But unfortunately as far as the HMRC is concerned the 15.5% social charges are not considered a tax and therefore cannot be offset against UK tax. You will therefore have to top up the French tax by at least an additional 9% UK tax (assuming you are in the 28% CGT tax bracket).

Monday, November 12, 2012

What is the settlements legislation?

Sharing dividend income from a limited company with a non-fee-earner has been a classic tax avoidance tactic employed by consultants, contractors and locum doctors who operate through limited companies. It is useful as it allows the use a non-fee-earner’s tax allowances and progressive taxation rates in order to save significant tax.

However, unless the non-fee-earner is a spouse or civil partner qualifying for a spousal exemption, HMRC could treat all the company’s fee income as that earned by the contractor, and tax them accordingly. The settlements legislation will apply if a contractor gives shares in their contractor limited company to a partner, family member or friend who does not work in the business yet receives an income.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dividends: dos and don'ts

Distributable profits

Dividends must be paid out of distributable profits and directors must prepare relevant accounts to confirm the position. If it later transpires there are not enough distributable profits and relevant accounts were not prepared then the dividend is illegal and repayable, and should be disclosed as such.

Friday, March 11, 2011

How much tax do you pay on dividends?

Taxation of dividends in the UK has always been confusing. The rates people mention are actually different from the effective rates for some legacy reasons. As if tax was not complicated enough...

There used to be 2 dividend tax rates but this changed last year. There are now 3 different rates depending on your tax band. And with the introduction of the new band at 50% called top rate income tax threshold a new band was introduced as well for dividends. Here they are:
  • 10% on dividends for income received below the higher rate income tax threshold (£37,400)
  • 32.5% on dividends for income received above the higher rate income tax threshold
  • A new 'additional' dividend tax rate of 42.5% applies to individuals earning £150,000 or more from April 6th 2010 onwards.
However the calculation is a bit convoluted. The actual rate of tax you pay in dividends is lower than these headline rates, as dividends automatically receive a 10% tax credit. This is to take into account the fact that you will already have paid corporation tax on your company profits.