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…
Received an automated message from HMRC saying you are under investigation? Do NOT reply – this is scam. Read on…
We are getting some reports of an HMRC telephone scam. This is not a new scam but seems to be rearing its ugly head again so beware: Scam: a recorded message is left, allegedly from HMRC, that starts: “This is Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. We have been trying to reach you to let you know that we are filing a law suit against you/you have a tax refund due.” The recipient is then asked to phone 0XXXX XXXXXXX and press “1” to speak to the officer dealing with the case. Do not to reply to this message as they will then try to extract money from you.
Tip 1 If the caller can’t verify their identity, you should never disclose any personal details.
Tip 2 If you receive either of these scam calls, report it on the Action Fraud website or you can call 0300 123 2040.
For more on this visit: https://lnkd.in/gzpdUJE
If you are under a Tax or VAT Investigation and would like a specialist to review your case for free, please call 0114 275 6292 and book an appointment with our Tax Investigations Team.
Buying a car through a company
As good accountants know, buying a car through a company is usually not the most tax efficient.
This is because the company car tax regime taxes both the employee and the employer company on the provision of a company car and the way car tax is calculated. The amount of tax payable is based on the ‘car benefit’ assumed to have been provided, this is calculated by reference to the List Price multiplied by a % based on the CO2 emissions of the car. But as the value of the car depreciates, the car tax benefit remains the same as the calculation is based on the List Price not “market value”, hence the tax payable remains constant and not representative of actual value.
New car benefit rates
However, things are set to get better for the long suffering company motorist. From April 2020, there will be a sharp reduction in the car benefit rates for ‘Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEV) i.e. electric company cars with CO2 emissions of less than 75g/km. This taxable car benefit rate will reduce from 9% (2018) to 2% in April 2020.
Jaguar I-Pace EV400; List price £63,440; CO2 emissions 0g/km.
- 13% (2018-19)
- 16% (2019-20)
- 2% (2020-21)
Based on the above the car tax benefit charge will drop from £8,247 to £1269, a massive £6,978 saving!
So what now…
Well given that the new ULEV company car tax regime is set to become much more tax efficient from April 2020, you may want to consider deferring any new car purchase until April 2020, or at least choose a ULEV car which will then benefit from the much reduced car benefit rates applying from April 2020.
If you have any queries about this or any other tax planning, please contact us on 0114 275 62 92 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The advice above is a general guide only and does not constitute advice. You must seek professional advice before taking any action.
Businesses in the UK now have less than nine months to prepare for wide-ranging new rules requiring them to manage their accounts and submit tax returns digitally.
The government’s long-anticipated and controversial Making Tax Digital regime, hailed as the biggest tax and accounts shake-up in a generation, finally comes into effect in April 2019.
Experts in the accountancy world have warned the changes could catch many businesses off-guard. Shipleys Tax have urged business owners to begin researching and investing in digital reporting software that’s compliant with the new rules.
What is Making Tax Digital (MTD)?
Making Tax Digital for VAT is being brought in by the government as an attempt to streamline and simplify the tax reporting system. Making Tax Digital for business (MTDfb) begins on 1 April 2019 with MTD for VAT. From that date, VAT-registered businesses above the threshold of £85k (currently) will have to keep digital records and submit VAT returns using compatible software.
There will be specific rules for how business will report digitally and the software used to do this has to comply with HMRC’s guidance. Gone are paper records and spreadsheets (to a certain extent), in its place will be digital books and records stored online in the cloud.
This may come as a culture shock for many small businesses who are used to doing it the traditional way.
Businesses that exceed or expect to exceed the VAT registration threshold will need to consider:
· are they exempt from the requirement to file returns electronically under MTD (charities, local authorities, government departments and overseas businesses will not be exempt from MTD for VAT)?
· what records will need to be kept digitally
· what the digital VAT account should look like
· how to submit their digital VAT return in line with MTD requirements
· whether to submit their digital VAT account to HMRC
· penalties for late filing and payment of VAT, and for not keeping digital records or having digital links.
It is also worth noting that the government has plans to roll out MTD requirements for all other taxes in 2020.
What are the key dates to look out for?
· April 2018 – HMRC opened pilot for businesses to volunteer to submit their VAT returns
· Spring 2018 – HMRC launches consultation on MTD for corporation tax
· 1 April 2019 – start of first VAT period where MTD is mandatory
· 7 June 2019 – submission deadline for first monthly VAT returns under MTD
· 7 August 2019 – submission for first quarterly returns under MTD
· 1 April 2020 – MTD mandatory for all taxes (planned)
What can you do now to get ready for MTD?
Reports suggest some businesses have not heard about MTD. There is less than 12 months to go until MTD is implemented, many are still uncertain about the requirements and how specifically these requirements will apply to their business.
HMRC is still publishing further guidance on specific definitions and how MTD will work in practice. However, what businesses can do now is to review existing VAT accounting systems and processes in relation to the preparation of VAT returns.
Our recommended steps
To ensure that your business is ready for MTD, we would recommend the following steps:
1. Review your internal reporting systems, processes and controls. Liaise with your advisers/software providers and internal IT teams to get a view on what they can do to help to get ready for MTD.
2. Consider likely costs and potential disruptions to your business. Agree additional budgets for changing and maintaining your systems, seeking specialist advice.
3. Test the integrity of your data and consider whether your VAT-related data is accurate, current and complete.
4. Consider what information you wish to submit to HMRC and how the API connection will work. Do you need to develop or acquire additional software? Is it easier to outsource the submission of VAT returns to a third party?
Accounts and IT system changes may take 9 to 12 months to review and implement. HMRC advise that failure to meet the necessary MTD requirements could result in penalties although there will be a 12 month grace period (‘soft landing’) after MTD goes live to enable businesses to ensure that they have the necessary processes in place and digital links. It is important therefore that all affected businesses start reviewing their systems, processes and VAT adjustments now.
If you have any queries regarding the above, please contatct us on 0114 275 6292