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Dividends tax: Incorporation under attack

9th Jul 2015
Head of Insight AccountingWEB
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During his Summer Budget speech, George Osborne set out the thinking behind a new dividend tax credit that reduces the amount of tax paid on income from shares.

The government was unable to continue with its crusade to cut corporation tax rates below 18% while there are such strong tax incentives for people to self-incorporate, he explained.

“The dividend tax system was designed partly to offset double taxation on profits. But the system has not changed despite sharp reductions in corporation tax. Lower rates are creating rapidly growing opportunities for tax planning.”

To alter that equation, he set out plans to reform the taxation of dividends by replacing the current lower tax rates applicable to dividend income with a new £5,000 tax-free dividend allowance for all taxpayers, accompanied by increased tax rates on dividend income.

The rates of dividend tax will be set at 7.5%, 32.5% and 38.1%, equivalent to an increase of 7.5% where dividend income exceeds £5,000.

According to the Chancellor, “Those who either pay themselves in dividends or have large shareholdings worth typically over £140,000 will pay more tax; 85% of those who receive dividends will see no change or be better off.”

Almost immediately after the Chancellor sat down, AccountingWEB members were scratching their heads. “What are people’s views on the new 7.5% dividend tax?,” asked darrellwilliams in Any Answers. “Sounds like really bad news for most of the companies who I act for, as well as holders of quoted companies.”

Detail was hard to find, but bobbuilderlink pointed to page 44 of the Budget Report, which explained: “These changes will also start to reduce the incentive to incorporate and remunerate through dividends rather than through wages to reduce tax liabilities. This will reduce the cost to the Exchequer of future tax motivated incorporation (TMI) by £500m a year from 2019.”

We need to crunch numbers commented AccountingWEB member youngloch. “For some then self employment may indeed prove better but I think in reality that’s going to be higher rate earners when you consider NI on basic band.

“My instant thought is to declare very large dividends pre 5 April and take it to the loan account to lock in the current tax rules and then feed off over a following period eg no higher rate exposure for a few years (where reserves permit) and avoid new rule higher rate exposure.”

Several members examined whether the new dividends tax would achieve its objective of neutralising tax-based incorporations and thus solve the conundrum that underpins the IR35 measure for personal services companies. Said Red Leader: “7.5% of the basic rate band equates to about the NI saving obtained by incorporation. I suspect the 7.5% rate was set deliberately to do exactly that.”

Constantly Confused, meanwhile, expressed a common view that reflected their AccountingWEB user name: “Is it really true that an entrepreneur with a [limited] company paying basic salary and dividends on top just up to the higher rate just got a tax hike of £2k from April 2016 onwards?

“This is exactly what it seems to me.  However, I cannot seem to get my head around the government handing down a £2,000 tax hike to moderate earning entrepreneurs… Surely a Conservative Government didn't just launch the biggest raid on small business owners in living memory?”

Replies (94)

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By Vaughan Blake1
09th Jul 2015 09:24

Welcome back!

To investment income surcharge, long time no see!

Development land tax, where are you when we need you?

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By johnjenkins
09th Jul 2015 10:19

@CC

You are spot on. Surely though we all saw this, or something similar, coming with IR35 defunct. Very bad for Tories next election campaign, even with Boris in charge.

There is only one place that they can get the sort of money they need and that is from middle England. They do so at their own peril.

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By Vaughan Blake1
09th Jul 2015 10:56

Oops, sorry!

johnjenkins wrote:

Surely though we all saw this, or something similar, coming with IR35 defunct.

I have actually suggested this idea a couple of times on Aweb to level the playing field a little and make IR35 unnecessary. George, I did say though, CLOSE COMPANIES!  But hey, why complicate things?

As it applies to all dividends, I wonder if the 5% tax free withdrawals on life assurance bonds.... better stop there, you never know who might be reading this! 

 

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By Robert Hurn
09th Jul 2015 10:24

Dividend Tax Vouchers

Will dividend tax vouchers be required when the 10% tax credit is withdrawn?

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By Lship
09th Jul 2015 10:24

@Johnjenkins

People tend to have very short memories though...

Tax middle England now for say 4 years and it becomes the norm, then give a tax break before the next election (maybe increasing the dividend allowance to say £15,000) and hey presto middle England are happy again and are that happy with the tax giveaway forget they are still worse off than they were 5 years ago. 

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By DHillside
09th Jul 2015 10:27

It could be worse

Yes it is a smack in the face to small business but it could have been a lot worse if we'd had Ed Balls.  I woiuld rather have a 7.5% rate on dividends than a mansion tax and 50% tax (or more) higher rate of tax.

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Should Be Working ... not playing with the car
By should_be_working
09th Jul 2015 10:44

Least worst option

DHillside wrote:

Yes it is a smack in the face to small business but it could have been a lot worse if we'd had Ed Balls.  I woiuld rather have a 7.5% rate on dividends than a mansion tax and 50% tax (or more) higher rate of tax.

Agree, such is often the case. The main feature of a Conservative govenrment is that it's not a Labour one.

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Should Be Working ... not playing with the car
By should_be_working
09th Jul 2015 10:47

NI on dividends

I think Red Leader, quoted in the article, is correct. This is the idea of NI on close company dividends by the back door, except George has taken an even bigger sledgehammer than that would have been, and is hitting genueine one-man band companies.

The only real saving for 'IR35-ish' contractors now is from the rates paid to contractors including some of the Er's NI savings and any advatnages from controlling dividends (to stay under the £50k threshold for child benefit clawback, say). All pretty marginal now.

End of an era (and the passing of that class of high enquiry risk clients).

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By johnjenkins
09th Jul 2015 10:45

@Lship

Perhaps some years ago you would well have been right, but since the early 1990's when the banks stitched everyone up we are all much more aware of what's going on. Pity the politicians still think we are idiots and they can do want they want.

It's still better than a Labour /SNP coalition. Really that's all we can hope for these days.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
09th Jul 2015 10:50

.

Has anyone worked out if the first £5,000 of "dividend tax allowance" is an entirely new allowance and separate from computations of gross income [as with CGT, which has the same terminology], or do we essentially have a nil rate band for dividends of 0%, the first £5k of which counts towards your gross income, as with how savings interest is taxed?

This makes a £1,625 difference to the tax computations for a higher rate tax payer taking a (say) £50k dividend and £10k salary, so is very much non-trivial and would take a big part of the sting out of this new legislation. 

I don't know about anyone else but this is very much a "need to know right now" to answer client questions correctly. 

 

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By NeilW
09th Jul 2015 11:57

I suspect the 'dividend tax-free allowance' is the same concept as the 'interest tax-free allowance'. But I think both are 'pre-announcements' rather than in statute as yet. 

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By BigBadWolf
09th Jul 2015 10:58

Stop tinkering

Why can't the idiots just leave CT @ 20% - and continue the Tax Credits on Dividends as before.

Why fix something that aint broken

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By Vaughan Blake1
09th Jul 2015 11:04

An additional £1,700 is the figure

Quoted in the FT as the extra tax for the £8,000 salary, £31,000 dividend folks.  No workings shown though.

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By msu677
09th Jul 2015 16:20

My thoughts

Vaughan Blake1 wrote:

Quoted in the FT as the extra tax for the £8,000 salary, £31,000 dividend folks.  No workings shown though.

 

Having reviewed the budget summary I have found the following in response to this feed

Dividend taxation – The government will abolish the Dividend Tax Credit from April 2016 and introduce a new Dividend Tax Allowance of £5,000 a year. The new rates of tax on dividend income above the allowance will be 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers, 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers and 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.

Therefore the workings for £8000 salary £31000 dividend would be

            Total income £39,000 less £16,000 (PA £11,000 & DTA £5,000) equals £23,000 @ 7.5% = £1,725 of personal tax

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By youngloch
09th Jul 2015 16:55

Confused... we are and will be....

Do we know for sure that any PA not used via salary will be available to relieve against dividends.

It could be £8000 salary and £31000 dividend being:

Total income £39000 less PA £11000 restricted to £8000 plus dividends of £31000 less £5000 DTA equals £26000 @ 7.5% = £1950

because then we might want to consider keeping a PA salary even though it attracts NIC EE and, possibly for some, NIC ER simply because we then get CT relief at 20% against it as opposed to paying 7.5% on the extra £3000 unused PA which may not cover dividends!

No wonder Rebecca's advice hasn't been seen yet!

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
09th Jul 2015 18:01

I think we do from the actual budget speech

youngloch wrote:

Do we know for sure that any PA not used via salary will be available to relieve against dividends.

It could be £8000 salary and £31000 dividend being:

Total income £39000 less PA £11000 restricted to £8000 plus dividends of £31000 less £5000 DTA equals £26000 @ 7.5% = £1950

because then we might want to consider keeping a PA salary even though it attracts NIC EE and, possibly for some, NIC ER simply because we then get CT relief at 20% against it as opposed to paying 7.5% on the extra £3000 unused PA which may not cover dividends!

No wonder Rebecca's advice hasn't been seen yet!

As someone posted either on this thread or one of the others, George said:

"It comes into operation next year, and with our Personal Allowance and our new Personal Savings Allowance it means that from April – on top of the New ISA – people will be able to receive up to £17,000 of income a year tax free."

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By Michael C Feltham
09th Jul 2015 11:14

Driving Small Business to Class IV!

One of the core problems of self employment, surely, is the iniquitous Class IV NIC charge?

Older members will remember Thatcher's government introduced this and Thatcher herself stated " Well, small businesses have loads of nice little perqs and can't complain!"

However, even Thatcher's government realised its error and changed the legislation to allow 50% of the Class IV charge to be expensed against revenue.

This was then later withdrawn: perhaps worse, instead of being a fixed amount limited by a threshold, then magically, a 2% surcharge was later added. Upwards ever upwards!

The most dire reality about Class IV is, unlike Schedule E, no benefits whatsoever accrue for this supposed NIC: as Sir Teddy Taylor MP agreed with me at the time, it is simply a tax on self-employment.

Driving close company directors to self employment I believe is part of government's insidious desire to eventually base all earned income on Schedule E.

IR35 was just the start: coupled with the now redundant Self Employment Tests etc.

Even Brown shortly gave up on NCDs; which was aimed in precisely the same direction.

 

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By hughjoyce
09th Jul 2015 11:21

I am defintinely retiring!!!

Until I can, are there any worked examples? Is this starting in April 2016?

People forget that owning your own business comes with the perils of unpaid holiday/sick, non payment by clients, costs for offices, overheads and that you are creating employment. If I don't see any tax benefit, I would rather just be employed and pick up a pay cheque.

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By NeilW
09th Jul 2015 11:45

"If I don't see any tax

"If I don't see any tax benefit, I would rather just be employed and pick up a pay cheque."

If you don't see any increase in rate from being self-employed rather than employed then you should indeed just take the job. 

It is your clients that should cover your risk in return for the flexibility of hiring for services as required - not the taxpayer. 

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
09th Jul 2015 11:22

.

@Vaughan, £31k/£8k would be nil now or close to it for 2015/16.  I would make it £5k nil, £26k @ 7.5% = £1,950.  

To get to £1,700, you would assume the £31k was a gross dividend, which become a net £27,900, but most people would quote the net to start with........

I imagine they don't know either and doesn't help my question about how this actually works.

 

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By johnjenkins
09th Jul 2015 11:29

Does it really

matter, the end product will be more cash deals or less productivity. Either way Government won't get the the dosh they are relying on.

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By jline199
09th Jul 2015 11:33

New Dividend Tax v Class 4 NIC

Of course any tax increase is to be regretted. But for those not into higher rate tax, is this really a disincentive to incorporate?

Surely it is a question of comparing the new 7.5% dividend tax with the 9% Class 4 NIC rate on self-employed profits between £8060 and £42385 (in 2015-2016, no doubt adjusted slightly for 2016-2017).

Also tax is only ever one aspect, and for many the protection of limited liability is most certainly an aspect to take into account.

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By Michael C Feltham
09th Jul 2015 11:38

What About the 2%?

jline199 wrote:

 

Surely it is a question of comparing the new 7.5% dividend tax with the 9% Class 4 NIC rate on self-employed profits between £8060 and £42385 (in 2015-2016, no doubt adjusted slightly for 2016-2017).

 

Don't forget the 2% surcharge between the top £42,385 to infinity!

 

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By Bluffer
09th Jul 2015 11:39

Class 4 NIC

I couldn't agree more with what Michael C Feltham writes above.

If Class 4 was paid into a nice little personalised retirement pot for the self-employed payer, we wouldn't have had half of the incorporations that we've seen in the last 15 years. Otherwise it is a way of saying that the self-employed pay basic rate tax at 29% instead of 20%.

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By NeilW
09th Jul 2015 11:43

It's a corporation tax hike in disguise.

So you reduce corporation tax for companies that hoard cash, and increase it (effectively to 26.5%) for those that distribute that cash so it can be spent. 

You encourage diffuse shareholdings so that the agency effect can do its worse and you attack dividends so that share options and short term capital games get precedence.

Yup it's a decent strategy for long term business thinking and increased spending in the economy. A clear winner (!)

 

 

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By 0098087
10th Jul 2015 10:02

tory govt

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By hughjoyce
09th Jul 2015 11:45

So unjust

Seems morally wrong that further tax is being paid on top of the 20% corporation tax already paid. I guess now is the time to add on some more shareholders!!!

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By stephen.lowe.kapnisi.com
09th Jul 2015 11:46

MISSING SOMETHING?

Unless I am missing something, would not the lack of tax credit more than compensate for new the 7.5% dividend tax?

For example, and even ignoring the £5000 allowance, a £30k gross dividend would cost £2,250 tax in future, giving a net £27,750.

Under the existing rules, That £30k dividend would only have been £27,000 in hand.

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Steve Edwards
By stevo5678
15th Jul 2015 21:30

makes no sense

 

stephen.lowe.ka... PM | Thu, 09/07/2015 - 11:46 | Permalink

Unless I am missing something, would not the lack of tax credit more than compensate for new the 7.5% dividend tax?

For example, and even ignoring the £5000 allowance, a £30k gross dividend would cost £2,250 tax in future, giving a net £27,750.

Under the existing rules, That £30k dividend would only have been £27,000 in hand.\

 

CORRECT CALC

 

New rules - £30k = £27,750 in hand as you state. However you are paying £2250 to HMRC so need to take out £30k in cash.

 

Old rules - you only need to take out only £27,750 in cash to get it in your hands as the tax credit is grossed up and then taken back off basically cancelling any impact.

 

 

 

 

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By geoffwolf
09th Jul 2015 11:51

What these comments has missed is the damage done to the second state pension when the state pension regime changed during the previous coalition government. Until that change there was less incentive for forward seeing businessmen to keep their salaries very low and remunerate themselves largely in dividend form.

To I really should kn....

You're forgetting the saving of £31K  x 2% corporation tax  = £620 bringing your figure down to

£1330

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By youngloch
09th Jul 2015 12:03

CT Rates

Trouble is dividend tax starts in 2016 whereas CT goes to 19% in 2017 and then to 20% in 2020

The good news though is that our clients are as confused as hell and whereas, give us time to digest it, we will learn to understand it our clients have not got the foggiest and this is the time to remind our clients that they benefit from us being part of their "team".

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By hughjoyce
09th Jul 2015 12:04

??

geoffwolf wrote:

What these comments has missed is the damage done to the second state pension when the state pension regime changed during the previous coalition government. Until that change there was less incentive for forward seeing businessmen to keep their salaries very low and remunerate themselves largely in dividend form.

To I really should kn....

You're forgetting the saving of £31K  x 2% corporation tax  = £620 bringing your figure down to

£1330

 

From reports online this reduction is not coming in until 2 or 3 years AFTER the dividend changed. Will be ecstatic to be corrected!!!!

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By Paul_Benton
09th Jul 2015 12:03

More SA Registrations

I think there will be many taxpayers currently making a living from share portfolios that will now presumably need to register for SA... pensioners, wives of OMB shareholders owning shares in the family business, life tenants of will trusts etc all of whom have been counting on the basic rate tax credit.

I thought the government wanted to scrap tax returns?

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By melonf
09th Jul 2015 12:09

What about one mand band earings in the 40% income tax band?

So how do the sums add up for a one man band with a 8k + 50k dividend. It strikes me that some unviable marginal rates may be at play here.

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By rboggon.yahoo.co.uk
09th Jul 2015 12:20

Come on Rebecca let's have some of your famous examples please!

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By nodhedz
09th Jul 2015 12:38

Still worth incorporating for couples

For the businesses where the husband or wife becomes a shareholder only, the numbers still show there to be a tax incentive to incorporating. Just not as big as before. Many of my clients are more concerned with the limited liability status though.

 

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By nodhedz
09th Jul 2015 12:41

Property businesses

Already had questions from clients as to whether incorporating their property investment 'business' is now worthwhile? Interest fully allowable. Lower CT. etc etc.

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By Michael C Feltham
10th Jul 2015 17:06

For New Acquisitions------Perhaps:

nodhedz wrote:

Already had questions from clients as to whether incorporating their property investment 'business' is now worthwhile? Interest fully allowable. Lower CT. etc etc.

As always, the Devil's in the detail.

Problem for existing property portfolios is simply CGT. Since if the owner transfers to a new close Ltd Co (NewCo) and takes say a warrant or whatever (for the current value) then this crystallises a CGT gain.

If however the owner "gifts" the asset/s to the NewCo, then this act triggers gift tax arising.

All presupposing, of course, the mortgage lender is happy to transfer the primary liability to NewCo backed up by a personal guarantee.

Core problem - again! - government are fixated on the old Schedule A Property Tax Regime. And cannot accept B2L is a business activity.

Now, some might scream "Rubbish! It's an investment activity!". Yet so are a host of other business activities dealing with asset investments.

Are these next in the exchequer's beady venal eye?

Personally, as well as a typical smash and grab tax scam, I'm sure George and his gang were trying to assauge populist Left Wing sentiment over the supposed iniquities of BTL.

Which neatly forget the main difference between B2L purchasers and the hordes of young whining "I've gotta deposit and I still can't get a mortgage!", Lefties is creditworthiness.

If tens of thousands of B2L entrepreneurs had not have had perceived an opportunity to leverage their savings, sure as hell government and local authorities lacked the funding to throw up zillions of "affordable" starter homes for rent!

 

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By Tim 59
04th Aug 2015 15:40

Investors do not get an interest deduction against dividend income, so the buy to let position does distort investment decisions. I am sympathetic to your client's concerns. Having been enticed/ encouraged to invest in rental properties, a long term investment with considerable entrance/exit charges, the politicians change the rules on a whim.

I suggest that Mr Osborne is trying to improve his leadership/election chances by encouraging directors of small companies that are higher rate tax payers to declare significant dividends this tax year, generating significant tax receipts. He is selling off RBS shares at a loss, all funding a reduction in the deficit and prefunding a give away budget prior to an election.

 

 

 

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13th Aug 2015 14:56

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Should Be Working ... not playing with the car
By should_be_working
09th Jul 2015 12:45

Alphabet Shares

We've always had a handful of these, now I can see us doing a lot more - all receiving dividends of - oh, let's pick a random figure - £5k? Difference now is that this could work even if the 'new' shareholder is already in the higher rate (if I've read it right?)

I also therefore predict a new push by HMRC on income shifting. (Maybe after two or three years, once they've woken up.)

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By North East Accountant
09th Jul 2015 12:56

Effective Rates

My back of the fag packet calculation of the effective rates for an owner managed limited company ignoring the new £5K allowance are;

Basic Rate:26%

Higher Rate: 46%

Additional Rate: 50.48%

Very rushed when did them so happy for someone to put me right and publish the correct figures!

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Should Be Working ... not playing with the car
By should_be_working
09th Jul 2015 13:29

Glass Half Full

North East Accountant wrote:

My back of the fag packet calculation of the effective rates for an owner managed limited company ignoring the new £5K allowance are;

Basic Rate:26%

Higher Rate: 46%

Additional Rate: 50.48%

Very rushed when did them so happy for someone to put me right and publish the correct figures!

Looks right. I've done some playing around on Excel this lunchtime and got those numbers.

For a basic one-man band £100k (no other income, no child benefit, etc), they're paying an extra £1k over a traditional 'Sch D' setup, but this evens out as the CT rate comes down.

Along with that there are sitll a good number of advantages to incorporation. So, reasons to be optimistic.

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
09th Jul 2015 14:23

May now boil down

should_be_working wrote:

North East Accountant wrote:

My back of the fag packet calculation of the effective rates for an owner managed limited company ignoring the new £5K allowance are;

Basic Rate:26%

Higher Rate: 46%

Additional Rate: 50.48%

Very rushed when did them so happy for someone to put me right and publish the correct figures!

Looks right. I've done some playing around on Excel this lunchtime and got those numbers.

For a basic one-man band £100k (no other income, no child benefit, etc), they're paying an extra £1k over a traditional 'Sch D' setup, but this evens out as the CT rate comes down.

Along with that there are sitll a good number of advantages to incorporation. So, reasons to be optimistic.

May now boil down to their mileage and car purchasing choices.

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By youngloch
09th Jul 2015 12:59

Step back and think of the new "sales" pitch

New client walks in never been in business before:

Self employed:

You will pay tax on all profits whether you take them for yourself or not

A simple structure but if it goes wrong you are personally liable

You will pay payments on account 2 months before tax year end and 4 months after

 

Company:

You will save a small amount of tax if you take all profits but only enough to cover our higher fees

No payments on account

Limited liability protection which can limit any personal exposure if it goes wrong

You pay tax 9 months after year end once a year on company profits

You will only pay tax rates of more than 20% if you draw the money out for yourself so you have some tax planning options compared to self employed.

There is a lot more paperwork but that is what we are here for.

 

If you were a potential client what would you opt for? Granted it's not a shoe in anymore but....

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By Tim 59
09th Jul 2015 13:09

In the future, when the corporation tax rates drop from 20% to 18% this will result in a reduction in the effective dividend investment surcharge from 7.5% to 5.5%" ignoring the £5,000 allowance.

In recent years shareholders in large companies( previously taxed at the higher rates of corporation tax) should of  received a significant  bonus through higher dividend distributions. The cost of the reduced corporation tax receipts are being clawed back from individual UK tax payers through the surcharge.

 

 

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By thatsnumberwang
09th Jul 2015 13:26

Im confused

The chancellor is saying that "85% of those who receive dividends will see no change or will be better off".

 

Current system (2015-16 rates):

Salary £8k, dividends £27k (net), PCTCT £40k

No tax or NIC on salary, no tax to pay in real terms on dividends, CTax £8,000

 

Assuming new dividend system comes in 1st April 2016 (2016-17 rates):

Salary £8k, dividends £27k (net), PCTCT

Salary - still no tax or nics

Dividends Tax = (£27000-£5000) x 7.5% = £1,650

Corporation Tax (still 20%) = £8,000

 

Have I got something wrong here?!?!?!?

 

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Morph
By kevinringer
09th Jul 2015 13:28

What does the chancellor mean by "worth"?

The Chancellor said "Those who either pay themselves in dividends or have large shareholdings worth typically over £140,000 will pay more tax". What does he mean by "worth". What has the value of the shares got to do with it? Is he confusing value with income? Am I the one that is confused?

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By fswain
09th Jul 2015 14:00

Majority of dividends are paid by quoted companies. Portfolio value say £140k with typical div yield of about £5 k? Guess that's what he meant

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Morph
By kevinringer
09th Jul 2015 13:37

Subbies


In recent years we've had battles trying to get CIS back for one-man-band subcontractors. I guess this will be the nail in the coffin. They might as well unincorporated and say goodbye to the CIS headache (ie the CIS is set against their SA without any problems).

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