Incorporating a limited company

Incorporating a limited company

Incorporating a limited company

Choosing to set-up a limited company is a popular choice in the UK. This post explains what is a limited company and shares how it can maximise your take-home pay, along with other advantages and disadvantages.

If the time has come and you are considering setting up a business, chances are, you have been made aware of the different types of company structure in the UK. It is even possible that your friends and associates are encouraging you to set up a limited company. Among the many reasons you hear pertaining to a limited company, these three main points are likely to stand out:

  • Your liability as a shareholder is limited.
  • Taxation rates can be more favourable.
  • You can be tax-efficient by taking a low salary and using dividends to make up your income.

But a limited company is not without its disadvantages and we must emphasise that your approach to tax must also be right and lawful, as HMRC can and do challenge company directors. It is with this in mind that our small business accountants want to share the ins and outs of incorporating a limited company so you have an idea if this is the right business structure for you.

What is a limited company?

Governed by the Companies Act 2006 and its own articles of association, a limited company is a legal entity with its own legal rights and obligations, a distinct advantage that is welcomed by most business owners.

Essentially, what it means is that the company can enter into contracts, receive income, own property, pay tax, employ people, sue and be sued. The rights and obligations of the company are separate from its shareholders, directors and employees. In the event that the company is insolvent, the directors are only liable for the amount they have invested in the company and are not held responsible for the company debts incurred in the ordinary course of business. The only exception is when the directors fail to meet their legal obligations and they do look out for the interests of the company, but that does not happen often as most directors do exercise a duty of care.

A limited company can be large with multiple employees or set-up with just one individual as the sole director of the company. A large number of contractors and small business owners prefer to set-up a limited company of their own as it probably is the most efficient method to maximise your take-home pay. The approach is to channel income through your limited company and paid out to you (and/or any other shareholders) in a combination of salary and dividends. This can result in tax savings, as dividends are treated differently to salaries in terms of tax.

Having said that, we advise contractors to have a chat with one of our contractor accountants to determine if you fall within or outside the IR35 rules.

Now let’s use some examples to illustrate how incorporating a limited company can boost your take-home pay.

Scenario 1: You are the sole director and your salary is £40k a year

In this scenario, you are the director and also the employee. You receive an income of £40,000 a year. In the tax year 2019/20, this means your take-home pay is about £30,736 as any salary calculator website can quickly tell you.

Scenario 2: You are the sole director. Your salary is £10k a year and you declare a dividend of £30k.

In this scenario, you are the director and also the employee. You receive a low salary of just £10,000 a year. To make up your income, at the end of the year after your company has paid company tax on the revenues, you declare a dividend of £30,000. As you are the sole director, you receive the full sum of the dividend. In the tax year 2019/20, this means your take-home pay is £37,923; this is £7,187 more than the previous example.

The above examples are simplified for discussion only. In reality, how much tax you pay depends on your circumstances. Nonetheless, it does illustrate to you why contractors and small business owners prefer to set-up a limited liability company. If you would like to know more about dividends, this post “Understanding dividends” is packed with information.

Other benefits of having a limited company

  • You can easily transfer ownership by selling shares to another party, this is particularly useful if you have an exit strategy in mind.
  • Shareholders (often couples or family members) can be employed by the company and reduce the overall family tax obligations.
  • A limited company looks more professional than a sole trader and if you are looking for funding, investors are more likely to invest in a limited company than a sole trader too.
  • It can fund pensions as a legitimate business expense.
  • Once you have registered your company, no one else can use the same name as your company.

Now the disadvantages of having a limited company

Everything has two sides and before you rush to incorporate a limited company, it pays to take a second to understand the disadvantages.

  • It can be expensive to establish and maintain a limited company.
  • The reporting requirements are complex and best handled by an experienced small business accountant. This will free up your time to focus on your business.
  • The company pays tax on the profits.
  • When the company declares dividends, you and your shareholders are responsible for pay tax on them, despite dividends have lower tax rates than salary.
  • The financial information of the company is made public by Companies House.
  • If any of the directors fail to meet their legal obligations, they may be held liable for the company’s debts.

Tax Agility can help you to incorporate a limited company

Before making a decision on how you should go about incorporating your company, it is best speaking to a qualified and independent small business accountant like our team here at Tax Agility. The reason is simple – there will be areas like VAT, tax incentives/ relief (such as the Annual Investment Allowance), cash flow management, and general financial control that we can assist you with and give you and your business the best chance to succeed.

At Tax Agility, we have been championing small businesses across Putney, Richmond and Central London for many years now. As everyone has a unique situation and aspiration, our personalised package starts from £105 per month + VAT. This means you can engage our service and use us as your financial controller without paying big money.

So let’s kick-start the conversation today. We are available on 020 8108 0090 or you can contact us online to arrange for a complimentary no-obligation meeting.

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This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

Property tax - concept image

Property Tax

Property tax - concept imageTax is a complicated subject and property tax is no exception. If you own a property or planning to own one, tax planning becomes important because buying, selling or renting out your property is likely to expose you to some form of property tax. In this article, our specialist tax accountants explain:

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • Capital Gain Tax
  • Tax on rental income

Stamp Duty Land Tax

When you buy property, you must pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). The amount you pay depends on several factors such as if you’re replacing your main residence, buying an additional property, buying a non-residential property, and if the property is freehold or leasehold.

If you are a first-time buyer, then you don’t pay SDLT on properties up to £300,000, and only 5% SDLT on anything between £300,001 and £500,000. If your property is worth more than £500,000 then you will be taxed as though you had already bought a home.

A common question relating to SDLT is if one can reduce the SDLT liability by using a company to purchase a property. The answer is generally no because HMRC applies a 15% SDLT on residential properties costing more than £500,000 if bought by a company, although there are conditions where the 15% rate does not apply, such as when the company acts in its capacity as a trustee of a settlement and purchases a chargeable interest in a residential property. To find out how you can reduce your SDLT liability legitimately, it’s best to discuss your situation with one of our experienced Tax Accountants.

Capital gains tax on property

Whenever you sell a property that has appreciated in value, you may be taxed on the profit that you make. This is capital gains tax and it typically applies to property that’s not your main home, such as buy-to-let property, business premise, land and inherited property. If you sell your home or if you live abroad, different rules will apply.

Like other taxes, there are situations where you can get a tax relief or don’t have to pay capital gain tax on property. For example, you do not need to pay tax on assets you give to your spouse or a charity as a gift.

In the event that you are liable for capital gains tax, how much you need to pay depends on how much capital gains tax allowance you have in that financial year. The good news is, the amount of annual capital gains tax allowance, aka the annual CGT exemption, has been increased by the government over the years and for the 2019/2020 tax year, you can make tax-free capital gains of up to £12,000 and couples who jointly own assets can combine this allowance.

Get in touch with us if you would like to understand more about capital gains tax and the relief associated with it.

Tax on rental income

In its simplest sense, you pay income tax on the profit you make from renting out your property. Additionally, you can also deduct finance cost (mortgage interest, interest on loans to buy furnishings, overdrafts) from rental income, but HMRC has begun to restrict this from 2017 with a mixture of old and new rules and from the tax year 2020-2021 onwards, as a residential landlord, you will get a flat rate of 20% deduction of these costs from your tax liability. The upshot of this is you will be paying more tax and receiving a smaller net profit from your rental income, particularly if you’re a landlord who already has a higher income.

One legitimate tax-efficient way to handle tax on rental income is to set-up a limited company and take advantage of corporation tax rates and dividend tax rates, which are lower than income tax and capital gains tax rates.

Contact the experts

Property tax is immensely complicated and there are numerous reliefs subject to specific conditions which may not be obvious to a property owner. At Tax Agility, our tax accountants excel in personal tax planning, and we’re always available to discuss income tax, trusts and estates, inheritance tax and capital gains tax with you.

Get in touch on 020 8108 0090, or contact us via our Online Form.

This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business/ accounting issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.