THE PANDEMIC has left many businesses struggling for cashflow who may not have enough profits to pay the usual dividends. So how should you extract cash from your company? In today’s short Shipleys Tax brief we look at some basic strategies to help you manage your cashflow tax efficiently.
If you operate through a limited company, for example as a personal or family company, you will need to extract funds from your company in order to use them to meet your personal bills. There are various ways of doing this. However, a popular and tax efficient strategy is to take a small salary which is at least equal to the lower earnings limit (set at £6,240 or 2021/22) to ensure that the year is a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefits purposes, and to extract further profits as dividends.
However, this strategy requires the company to have sufficient retained profits from which to pay a dividend. If the company has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, it may have used up any reserves that it had. As dividends must be paid from ‘retained’ profits, if there are none, it is not possible to pay a dividend.
So what are there other options for extracting funds to meet living expenses?
Pay additional salary or bonus
Unlike a dividend, a salary or bonus can be paid even if doing so creates a loss – it does not have to be paid from profits. However, this will not be tax efficient once the salary exceeds the optimal level due to the National Insurance hit and the higher income tax rates applicable to salary payments.
Take a director’s loan
If it is expected that the company will return to profitability, taking a director’s loan can be an attractive option. Depending when in the accounting period a loan is taken, a director can benefit from a loan of up to £10,000 for up to 21 months free of tax and National Insurance. If the company has returned to profitability within nine months of the year end, a dividend can be declared to clear the loan in time to prevent a special company tax charge from arising. If the account is overdrawn at the corporation tax due date nine months and one day after the year end, the special tax charge of 32.5% of the outstanding amount must be paid by the company (although this will be repaid after the corporation tax due date for the accounting period in which the loan balance is cleared).
Put personal bills through the director’s loan account
Another option is for the company to pay the bills on the director’s behalf and to charge them to the director’s loan account. Again, if the company has sufficient profits to clear the outstanding balance within nine months of the year end, a dividend can be declared to prevent a special tax charge from arising. A benefit in kind tax charge (and a Class 1A National Insurance liability on the company) will also arise if the outstanding balance is more than £10,000 at any point in the tax year.
Provide benefits in kind
Use can be made of various tax exemptions, such as those for trivial benefits and mobile phones, to provide certain benefits in kind in a tax-free fashion.
If the company is run from the director’s home, the company can pay rent to the director for the office space. This should be at a commercial rate, and the director will pay tax on the rental income. However, there is no National Insurance to worry about and the rent can be deducted in computing the company’s profits, even if this creates a loss.
As a bonus, if the extraction policy creates a loss, it may be possible to carry the loss back and set against previous profits of the company to generate a much-needed tax repayment.
If you are affected by any of the issues above and would like more information, please call 0114 272 4984 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Shipleys Tax do not give free advice by email or telephone.