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…
Recently , the IT contracting market has faced upheaval due to the upcoming changes in off-payroll workers. From 6 April 2020, the off-payroll working rules that apply where the end client is a public sector organisation are being extended to the private sector.
The amended rules will apply where services are provided via an intermediary, such as a personal service company, to an end client which is a medium or large private sector organisation. The rules bite if, ignoring the personal service company, the worker would be classed as an employee of the end client. Prior to 6 April 2020, the personal service company had to operate the IR35 rules and work out the deemed payment. However, from 6 April 2020, responsibility for working out whether the rules apply will shift to the end client and, where they do, the fee payer must deduct tax and National Insurance from payments made to the worker’s personal service company.
Where the end client is a small private sector organisation, the existing IR 35 rules apply. A private sector organisation is not small if at least two of the following apply:
• turnover of more than £10.2 million;
• balance sheet total of more than £5.1 million;
• more than 50 employees.
To prepare for the changes, HMRC recommend that medium and large private sector companies should:
• look at their current workforce (including those engaged through agencies and intermediaries) to identify those individuals who are supplying their services through personal service companies;
• determine whether the off-payroll rules will apply for any contracts that extend beyond 6 April 2020 (HMRC’s Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool can be used to determine a worker’s status);
• start talking to contractors about whether the off-payroll rules apply to their role; and
• put processes in place to determine if the off-payroll working rules will apply to future engagements. These may include assigning responsibility for making a determination and determining how payments will be made to contractors who fall within the off-payroll working rules.
Workers affected by the changes should also consider whether it is worth remaining ‘off-payroll’.
If you are medium or large private sector organisation engaging workers who provide their services through an intermediary, such as a personal service company, or if you are a worker providing services via an intermediary, speak to us to understand what the changes to the off-payroll working rules mean for you.
Class 1A National Insurance contributions are employer-only contributions charged on most taxable benefits in kind (cars, gifts, vouchers etc).
From 6 April 2020 the Class 1A charge is extended such that from that date it will apply to taxable termination payments in excess of the £30,000 tax-free limit and to sporting testimonial payments in excess of the £100,000 lifetime limit. Currently, such payments are taxable but notliable to National Insurance.
The new Class 1A charge on termination payments will apply to the extent that the termination payment exceeds the £30,000 tax-free limit. The normal Class 1A percentage of 13.8% will apply. However, unlike Class 1A National Insurance contributions on benefits in kind, any liability on termination payments will be notified to HMRC via real time information (RTI) and paid with PAYE tax and Class 1 National Insurance contributions. Termination payments in excess of the £30,000 threshold will remain free of employee’s National Insurance contributions.
As with the new Class 1A charge on taxable termination payments, the liability will be reported and paid via the PAYE/RTI process, rather than through the P11D(b) process.
Non-contractual, non-customary sporting testimonials are taxable to the extent that they exceed a £100,000 lifetime tax-free allowance. From 6 April 2020, Class 1A National Insurance contributions will also be payable to the extent the lifetime allowance is exceeded. The Class 1A charge will fall on the sporting testimonial committee and it will be the responsibility of the sporting testimonial committee to report and pay the Class 1A liability to HMRC.
Speak to your professional adviser to understand how the timing of a termination payments will affect whether any employer-only National Insurance contributions are due.
The deadline for filing the 2018/19 self-assessment return online is 31 January 2020. Where a notice to file a return was issued after 31 October 2019, a later deadline of three months from the date of issue of the notice to file applies.
An earlier date of 30 December 2019 applies to taxpayers who have a liability of £3,000 or less which they would like to pay via an adjustment to their tax code.
A late filing penalty is charged if the return is filed late, even if it is only late by one day and regardless of whether any tax is due.
Speak to us to ensure that you understand what information you need to provide by when to ensure that the filing deadline is not missed.
Any tax that is unpaid for 2018/19 must be paid by 31 January 2020. The first payment on account for the 2019/20 tax year is due by the same date. Payments on account must be made where the previous year’s liability was £1,000 or more unless 80% of your tax liability is deducted at source, such as under PAYE. Each payment on account is 50% of the previous tax year’s tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability. The second payment on account for 2019/20 must be paid by 31 July 2020.
If you would like to us to check what needs to be paid by when speak to us.