Archive for July, 2017

Self-employed combined liability

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Whether you pay Income Tax or National Insurance, the effect on your cash flow is the same. The payments are a necessary part of our obligation to fund the activities of State, but the self-employed are often surprised that their bi-annual tax payments cover Income Tax and National Insurance.

The weekly Class 2 contribution is included, presently £2.85 per week, and also Class 4 contributions: these amount to 9% of taxable income in excess of £8,164 and up to £45,000, and 2% on earnings above £45,000.

Accordingly, the combined rate of State dues on self-employed earnings in excess of £8,164 is potentially 29% – 20% basic income plus 9% Class 4 NIC – and over £45,000 a combined rate of 42%. Although in practice some of the income over £8,164 may be covered by other personal tax allowances, these combined rates illustrate the true impact of Income Tax and National Insurance to be paid.

The lower Class 2 contribution is due to be withdrawn from April 2018.

In his first stab at a budget in March this year, Philip Hammond wanted to increase the Class 4 NIC rates from 9% to 10% (April 2018) and from 10% to 11% (April 2019). These increases were subsequently withdrawn. Whether the new, minority government will seek to re-introduce these changes remains to be seen.

Self-employed traders with significant taxable earnings should therefore expect to pay more than the usual rates of Income Tax when they contemplate settlement of their annual Self Assessment bill, and have funds in reserve to meet these combined liabilities.

Making Tax Digital – are we making progress

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

There is evidence that HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) implementation team are working with advisors and their clients to beta test the computer systems that will drive the quarterly upload process when it is timed to begin April 2018.

For those readers who may have missed our previous updates on this topic, MTD aims to have taxpayers’ income and other relevant details uploaded to a personal digital account. When completed, this new system will eventually remove the necessity of a formal tax return each year.

Banks, employers, pension providers and business owners (including landlords) will have an obligation to upload data to HMRC. The information gathered will allow for the estimation of future tax liabilities in real time.

For business owners and landlords this is quite a change from the present annual tax return. At various implementation dates they will be required to make quarterly, summarised uploads of their accounts data and undertake an annual online check.

At present, HMRC is not providing direct access to taxpayers to comply with their MTD obligations; instead, business owners will need to use accounting or other software that is authorised for this purpose.

The present timetable, when businesses will need to start uploading data, is:

  • April 2018 – the self-employed, including landlords, with turnover in excess of the VAT registration threshold, presently £85,000.
  • April 2019 – the self-employed, including landlords, with turnover below the VAT registration threshold.
  • April 2019 – submission of VAT returns
  • April 2020 – companies and other organisations subject to Corporation Tax.

Businesses with income below £10,000 will be excluded from the MTD quarterly upload processes.

Incredibly, the legislation setting out the rules and regulations for MTD has still not reached the statute books. It was included in the Finance Bill 2017, but the relevant sections and schedules dealing with MTD were deferred for consideration until after the recent election. Professional advisors, software providers, and the business community looks forward to some progress in this area. Presumably, the deferred legislation will reappear in a summer Finance Bill. The intention, we would assume, is to tidy up these loose ends before members of parliament break for their summer recess.

Sole trader or limited company

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

We are often asked to judge whether it’s better for a business to be run as a sole trader, or incorporated as a limited company.

The risk argument is fairly straight forward. If your trade or service provided involves risk, and a risk that it is difficult to fully insure, then the limited company is the best route. The only assets at risk will be those owned by your company. Your personal assets will be safeguarded.

If there is no significant risk, the next criteria to test is taxation. Which option generates the lower tax and NIC bill and provides you with more take home pay?

At the lower end of the spectrum, say taxable profits up to £20,000, it is probably better to be a sole trader, as any perceived tax benefit will likely be eliminated by the increased costs of running a limited company.

In the mid-range, profits between £20,000 and £200,000, you will save tax and NIC by being limited. Above £200,000 you may be better off being a sole trader.

However, these assumptions only apply if you withdraw everything you earn from your business. If you want to retain profits in your business, then the picture changes dramatically.

For example, if your company made £200,000 trading profit and you drew out £50,000 in salary and dividends and paid any corporation tax due, the company would be able to retain £114,000. This is cash that the company would be able to use to invest in the business. The combined take home pay and retained funds in the business would now be some £42,000 more than if you had paid tax and NIC as a self-employed person. The reason; as a self-employed sole trader you would pay tax at income tax rates on all your profits, even those you left in the business, whereas the company would only pay corporation tax at the lower 19% rate (2017-18).

There is no substitute for looking at this number crunching process on a case by case basis. If you are contemplating a new business venture and you are unsure what structure you should choose, please call so we can look at the options taking all of the above options into account.

Switch to our mobile site