Tax tips for Family Businesses
Find out how family businesses can reduce their tax burden with some practical forward thinking.
Owners and managers of family-owned businesses rightfully spend the vast majority of their time ensuring that the business runs well and generates profits. In the midst of such a demanding task, it can be easy to overlook some tax considerations that can potentially be significant.
The topic of tax in the context of family-owned businesses is a large one – however, there are a few key considerations to bear in mind:
- How is your business set up?
- How are you extracting funds?
- What’s New?
- How are you incentivising your staff?
- Are you thinking of an exit?
- Planning with pensions
- What about the next generation?
How is your business set up?
Most family-owned businesses are set up as companies, but some do run as partnerships. These two structures differ in terms of tax, and it is worthwhile for business owners to consider which structure could be most beneficial for their business.
Companies may pay lower rates of tax initially, but further tax (including National Insurance Contributions in the case of salary/bonuses) is often due when higher profits are extracted. Partnerships however are tax transparent, so profits are taxed as they arise, even if they are not extracted (but are taxed only once). It is generally easier to convert a partnership into a company than the other way around.
How are you extracting funds?
The business has a choice, broadly speaking, of paying dividends or paying salary/ bonuses. However, recent legislation has attempted to narrow the tax difference between companies and sole trader/partnerships.
The Finance Bill 2016, published on 24 March 2016, contains the new rules for dividends.
- From 6 April 2016, the notional 10% tax credit on dividends will be abolished
- A £5,000 tax free dividend allowance will be introduced
- Dividends above this level will be taxed at 7.5% (basic rate), 32.5% (higher rate), and 38.1% (additional rate)
- Dividends received by pensions and ISAs will be unaffected
- Dividend income will be treated as the top band of income
- Individuals who are basic rate payers who receive dividends of more than £5,001 will need to complete self assessment returns from 6 April 2016
- The change is expected to have little impact upon non-UK residents
The proposed changes raise revenue despite the so-called “triple lock” on income tax. Perhaps aimed to tax small companies who pay a small salary designed to preserve entitlement to the State Pension, followed by a much larger dividend payment in order to reduce National Insurance costs. It appears that the government is anti-small companies, preferring workers to be self-employed.
These changes will affect anyone in receipt of dividends: most taxpayers will be paying tax at an extra 7.5% p.a. Although the first £5,000 of any dividend is tax free, in 2016/17:
- Upper rate taxpayers will pay tax at 38.1% instead of an effective rate of 30.55% in 2015/16
- Higher rate taxpayers will pay tax at 32.5% instead of an effective rate of 25% in 2015/16
- Basic rate taxpayers will pay tax at 7.5% instead of 0% in 2015/16
This measure will have a very harsh effect on those who work with spouses in very small family companies. For example, a couple splitting income of £100,000 p.a. could be over £5,000 p.a. worse off.
Businesses should therefore consider these tax issues when using either of these methods to extract funds.
There can be benefits in various family members being involved in the business, particularly if they, for example, perform smaller roles and are not paying taxes at the higher rates. Care is always required here to ensure that any salaries are commensurate with the job performed.
There can also be complexities in giving away shares to spouses to enable them to capture dividends at the lower rates.
How are you incentivising your staff?
Clearly, the retention of key staff is of critical consideration for businesses of any size. With cash flows being restricted in these difficult times, consideration can usually be given to granting share options to employees. Certain tax-approved options schemes (such as Enterprise Management Incentives) are potentially very tax-efficient and a good incentive for key workers.
Are you thinking of an exit?
It is never too early to contemplate what would happen if the business were sold. The headline rate of capital gains tax is not good as it once was but there are potentially reliefs available which may minimise the tax burden on exit. With the right structuring, valuable relief can potentially be opened up to various family members through tax planning.
Tax Planning with pensions
Pensions are all the rage now, given the recent changes.
In certain instances, an appropriate pension plan for a family-owned business can lead to substantial tax efficiencies. Also the use of SIPPs and SASSs can be used a valuable tax planning tool to extract funds from otherwise taxable business profits.
What about the next generation?
Succession planning is a key strategic matter for any family-owned business. Where the business is a trading concern, it is often possible (depending on the particular circumstances) to give away shares without adverse tax consequences.
But care is required here to avoid certain pitfalls that can exist if even a few investment assets are located somewhere within the business.
It may also be the case that a trading business qualifies for inheritance tax relief (under the business property relief regime); therefore, founders may not be worried about inheritance tax now. If the business is sold however, this relief will be lost, potentially generating a significant inheritance tax bill in the future. Fortunately, planning options do exist here, such as transferring the business into a trust before an exit.
Needless to say, the above gives only a taste of some of the relevant tax considerations where family-owned businesses are concerned. The important point is to remember the significant impact that tax can make, and to take advice early and regularly.
Latest news & blogs…
WITH THE THREAT of a second UK lockdown looming, the Chancellor has today sprung into action to unveil his “Winter Economy Plan”.
Measures in Mr Sunak’s Plan include a new Jobs Support Scheme, an extension to the VAT cut for some sectors and support for businesses and workers.
At Shipleys Tax we have gathered the most relevant parts of the plan and summarised them below.
What is the New Jobs Support Scheme?
- The new Scheme, which is available to all small and medium-sized businesses, will see the Government top up the wages of workers forced to cut their hours due to the pandemic. It is intended to replace the somewhat successful employer furlough scheme.
- Employees will get paid for work as normal, with the state and employers then increasing those wages to cover up to two-thirds of the pay they have lost by working reduced hours.
- This means that employees must work a minimum of 33% of their normal hours. For the remaining hours not worked, the government and employer will pay one third of the wages each, meaning that employees working 33% of their hours will receive at least 77% of their pay.
- The idea behind the scheme is that it will enable employers to retain workers on reduced hours, so that employees are not made redundant.
- The Job Support scheme will start from November 2020 and last for six months, taking over from the current furlough scheme, which is due to end on the 31 October 2020.
- It will run alongside the Job Retention Bonus, as well as other initiatives aimed to help get people back into work such as the Kickstart Scheme.
Who is eligible for the Job Support Scheme?
Employees eligible for the Job Support Scheme must be employed to work two-thirds of their normal hours and it is available to anyone who is in employment from 23 September 2020.
How do you apply for the Job Support Scheme?
No details were provided by Chancellor about how the Job Support Scheme can be applied for. At Shipleys Tax we envisage it would work in the same way as the furlough scheme, which would mean that employees would not have to do anything, but instead it will be down to their employer to apply for the scheme.
Autumn Budget cancelled
Some further good news. Yesterday, the Chancellor announced that there would be no Autumn Budget. Many were predicting that the Autumn Budget would involve tax increases (notable capital gains tax) to help pay for Government schemes that were announced at the beginning of the nationwide lockdown in March. Instead, the next budget is now set to take place in spring 2021.
Self-employment income support scheme
For the self-employed, the grant available for those qualifying has been extended.
The 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors has also been extended.
If you are affected by the above and would like more information, please call 0114 272 4984 or email email@example.com.
Please note that we do not give free advice by email or telephone.
TO PREVENT the abuse of Research & Development tax credit relief claims, HMRC are looking to step up their crackdown on unscrupulous companies promoting exaggerated claims.
At Shipleys Tax, we are aware of the many pitfalls of an ill-prepared claim and the issues to avoid and how you can maximise the the tax relief claim.
This was borne out by the recent case of AHK Recruitment v The Commissioners for HMRC in the First Tier tax tribunal where a claim for Research & Development (R&D) was denied due to lack of credible evidence. In particular, the R&D report which was submitted did not give clear evidence as to how the research and development took place. The Tribunal was amazed that no competent professional gave evidence, not even a witness statement. Nor was there any professional representation.
What is R&D?
Research & Development is a significant driver of innovation, economic growth and employment across all regions of the UK.
The R&D tax relief is a very valuable relief. Under the SME scheme, where expenditure incurred by a SME qualifies for relief, the company can claim an extra deduction in calculating its taxable profits. That extra deduction is 130% of the qualifying expenditure, which means that the company obtains a total deduction of 230% (that is the original spend plus the additional deduction) of the original qualifying expenses.
If the company makes a loss for corporation tax purposes, the loss from the R&D deduction can (with some restrictions) be ‘surrendered’ in return for a payment of R&D tax credit. The payable tax credit is then 14.5% of the loss surrendered.
Abuse of R&D claims
Unfortunately, R&D is not a regulated industry and there are no real barriers to entry which has resulted in a tsunami of new overly enthusiastic entrants who exaggerate what should be considered as true R&D within the rules of the scheme. They may have incorrect suggestions as to what might qualify to encourage potential clients to sign up to their commission-based fee engagements.
The consequences of incorrect claims can be significant on the business. Not only will the business need to repay tax and interest, it may have significant tax penalties which may hit cash flow hard.
One underlying issue is that taxpayers are still failing to understand that the UK tax system is inherently “process now” and “check later”. Therefore whilst the business may receive a tax repayment from HMRC, HMRC have a window to enquire into the affairs of the business and this can be extended in some cases to 20 years.
Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that you instruct experienced and credible R&D firms who are real professionals and technically competent, as well as having high ethical standards, as this is a complicated area of tax law.
- The importance of the competent professional and their experience and qualifications.
- With software claims, the advance and uncertainties have to be in the field of software, not the industry it is being used in.
- Concentrating too much on functionality as opposed to advancement in the field of research, and uncertainty in the report.
- Lack of detailed evidence of costs.
At Shipleys Tax we expect to see a significant rise in cases such as AHK Recruitment above. HMRC are stepping up their crackdown on fraudulent R&D claims and have increased resources to tackle tax abuse due to a significant increase in incorrect and fraudulent R&D claims.
HMRC’s consultation on preventing abuse of R&D tax relief for SMEs closed Friday, 28 August 2020.
To talk through your potential R&D claim and how our team of experts might be able to help, please call 0114 272 4984 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN STRIFE AS IN DEATH, tax is never far away it seems. The government has made various support payments available to individuals and businesses to help mitigate the profound effects of the Covid-19 pandemic but there is a sting in the tail. What is the tax position of these payments?
Those self-employed people and business owners who have received a grant during the coronavirus pandemic, do they need to take these into account when preparing their tax returns for 2020/21. Shipleys Tax looks at the lesser known tax impact of these payments here.
Payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
Grants payments made under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for fully furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees are included in the calculation of the employer’s profits. However, they can deduct payments made to employees and associated employer’s National Insurance and pension contributions.
As far as the employee is concerned, grant payments paid over to them are treated in the same way as normal payments of wages and salary. They are taxable under PAYE and liable to Class 1 National Insurance contributions.
Grants under the Self-employment Income Support Scheme
The self-employed, can, if eligible, claim grants under the Self-employment Income Support Scheme if their business has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The first grant could be claimed in May and the second can be claimed in August.
The grants should be taken into account in computing profits for 2020/21, returned on the self-assessment tax return due by 31 January 2022. As they are included in profits, where these exceed £9,500 for 2020/21, Class 4 National Insurance contributions are payable. If profits exceed £6,475, the trader must also pay Class 2 contributions.
Where profits are below £6,475 for 2020/21, there is no obligation to pay Class 2 contributions. However, it can be beneficial to pay them voluntarily to ensure that 2020/21 remains a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefit purposes.
Various other grants were also paid to particular types of business, such as those eligible for small business rate relief and grants to those in specific sectors, such as those payable to businesses in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors and to Ofsted registered nurseries.
Where the business operates as a company, the grants should be taken into account in calculating the profits chargeable to corporation tax.
If the grants were payable to a sole trader or unincorporated business, they should be taken into account in computing the profits chargeable to income tax.
If you need assistance regarding the tax treatment of government support grants, please call us on 0114 272 4984 or email email@example.com.