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.
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WITH MANY now going through job changes and unemployment, renting out a room in your house or flat might be a great way to earn some tax-free income as well as providing an affordable space for someone else in need.
In today’s Shipleys Tax note we look at how renting a spare room in your house can earn you some tax free cash.
What is Rent-a-room relief?
The rent-a-room scheme allows those with a spare room in their home to let it out furnished and to receive rental income of £7,500 tax-free each year without the need to declare it to HMRC. Where more than one person receives the income, each can receive £3,750 tax-free. The limits are not reduced if the accommodation is let for less than 12 months.
The rent-a-room scheme can be used by anyone who lets a furnished room in their own to a lodger. They do no need to own their own home – it can also apply if they rent (but they should check with their landlord whether their lease allows this). The rent-a-room scheme can also be used by those running a guest-house or a bed-and-breakfast establishment and provide services, such as meals and cleaning, as well as accommodation.
The scheme is not available in relation to accommodation which is not in the individual’s main home or which is let unfurnished.
Where the rental receipts are £7,500 or less (or £3,750 or less where more than one person benefits from the rental income), the exemption is automatic. There is no need to tell HMRC about the rental income. Rental receipts are the rental income before deducting expenses, plus any charges made for services such as cleaning or meals.
Using the scheme where rental income exceeds the threshold
The rent-a-room scheme can also be used where the rental receipts exceeds the rent-a-room threshold (£7,500 or £3,750 as appropriate). Where this is a case, the taxable amount is simply the amount by which the rental receipts exceed the rent-a-room threshold. This approach will be beneficial if the rent-a-room threshold is more than actual expenses. However, where using actual figures will produce a loss, it is not beneficial to claim rent-a-room relief as this cannot create a loss and the benefit of the loss will be lost.
Where rental receipts are more than the rent-a-room threshold, a tax return must be completed. If the relief is to be claimed, this can be done by ticking the relevant box in the return.
The election can be made each year, depending on whether it is beneficial to do so.
Iqra lets out her spare room to a lodger for £100 a week, earning her £5,200 a year.
As the receipts are less than £7,500, she takes advantage of the automatic exemption for rent-a-room relief. She does not have to declare the income to HMRC.
Mary lets out a room in her home for £10,000 a year. She incurs expenses of £1,000 a year.
If she does not claim rent-a-room relief, she will pay tax on her profit of £9,000. However, by claiming rent-a-room relief, she is only taxed to the extent that her rental income exceeds £7,500. She is therefore able to reduce her taxable profit from £9,000 to £2,500 by claiming the relief.
If you are affected by any of the issues above and would like more information, please call 0114 272 4984 or email email@example.com.
Please note that Shipleys Tax do not give free advice by email or telephone.
IN THESE tough times company profits maybe severely affected but what if your family company is lucky to have cash in the bank? Is there a tax-efficient way to make a short term loan to directors to meet personal bills with a view to clearing the loan with a dividend payment when the business picks up? This can be a tax-efficient strategy, but there are tax pitfalls – in today’s Shipleys Tax note we briefly look at the options.
Tax implications of making loans to directors
Where a family company has cash in the bank but profits have been adversely affected by the pandemic, directors of a family company may wish to take a short term loan to enable them to meet personal bills, with a view to clearing the loan with a dividend payment when business picks up. This can be a tax-efficient strategy, although there are tax implications to be aware of if the loan balance exceeds £10,000, or if the loan is not repaid by the corporation tax due date.
A tax-free loan?
It is possible to enjoy a loan of up to £10,000 tax-free for up to 21 months. To enjoy the maximum tax –free period, the loan must be taken out on the first day of the accounting period. Where the loan is taken out during the accounting period, as long as it is does not exceed £10,000, it can be enjoyed tax-free until nine months and one day after the end of the accounting period.
Provided the loan is for £10,000 or less, there is no benefit in kind tax to pay. But if the outstanding loan balance exceeds £10,000 at any point, the director is taxed on the benefit of the loan.
The dreaded tax charge
To avoid a tax charge, the loan must be repaid within nine months and one day of the end of the accounting period. This is the day by which corporation tax for the period must be due. A section 455 tax charge (named after the legislative provision imposing it) is a charge on the company set at 32.5% of the outstanding loan balance. The charge is aligned with the higher dividend tax rate.
If the loan is cleared by the corporation tax date, there is no section 455 tax to pay. There are various ways in which the loan could be cleared, for example, by declaring a dividend (assuming that the company has sufficient retained profits) or by paying a bonus. However, there will be tax implications of these too. Unless the director can use funds from outside the company to clear the loan or will pay tax on the dividend or bonus being used to clear it at a rate which is less than 32.5%, it may be better to pay the section 455 charge instead.
The section 455 charge is a temporary charge which is repaid if the loan is repaid. The repayment is made nine months and one day from the end of the accounting period in which the loan was repaid, usually be setting it against the corporation tax liability for that period.
However, it should be noted that anti-avoidance provisions apply to prevent a director from trying to clear the loan shortly before the corporation tax due date and re-borrowing the funds shortly afterwards. What mechanisms would work to circumnavigate these provisions are beyond the scope of this tax brief.
Benefit in kind charge
Note that a tax charge will also arise on the director under the benefit in kind legislation if the loan balance exceeds £10,000 at any point in the tax year. The amount charged to tax is the difference between interest due on the loan at the official rate (currently set at 2.25% since 6 April 2020) and the interest, if any, paid by the director. The company must also pay Class 1A National Insurance (at 13.8%) on the taxable amount.
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 we do not give free advice by email or telephone.
LEGISLATION introduced to tackle the abuse of Research and Development (R&D) tax relief claims, which inadvertently affected genuine claims from small businesses, is being amended.
In today’s tax brief, Shipleys Tax looks at the new proposed changes to R&D rules and suggests why it’s good news for SME’s looking to get tax relief on research expenditure.
For a general overview of R&D and its abuse see: https://www.shipleystax.com/2020/09/beware-of-unscrupulous-rd-tax-relief-claim-companies/
Under the UK R&D tax credit relief rules, R&D costs incurred for work done anywhere in the world can potentially qualify for R&D tax relief. This is a very generous aspect of the tax relief but one that was open to widespread abuse.
For example, companies outside the UK with no real business interests in the UK, would set up UK companies and run foreign R&D costs through the company only to obtain the refundable/payable R&D tax credit from HMRC. HMRC state they have identified approximately £300M in fraudulent claims.
In order to prevent this abuse, draft legislation was introduced whereby any payable R&D tax credit would be capped at three times the PAYE costs incurred (thereby limiting the claim).
One of the major problems with this cap was an unintended result to deny or substantially reduce the R&D tax credit payable for certain SMEs; in particular start-ups. In many cases, start-ups tend to engage staff on a contract basis as opposed to employee/PAYE basis for various reasons. This would mean a low PAYE base cost.
As such, you could have the situation where a start-up has one employee on a reduced salary (because the company is “bootstrapping”) and hiring R&D staff on a contract basis. For example, if the PAYE were £5,000, the payroll cap would be £15,000 and hence any payable tax credit over this amount would be denied even if the qualifying expenditure was much higher. With the average SME receiving over £55K in tax credits, this could result in a substantial reduction, or denial, of R&D tax credit relief.
Under new draft legislation however, these restrictions have been lifted and there are now two exceptions to the rule above.
Firstly, any payable R&D tax credit below £20K is not affected by the cap. Secondly, and more importantly, any SME will not be subject to the cap if:
- its employees created the intellectual property behind the R&D work and
- its expenditure on externally provided workers (and work subcontracted to a related party) is less than 15% of its overall R&D spend.
Currently the legislation is draft and, if passed, is welcome news to SMEs in the UK. In particular it would benefit those startups with very low PAYE costs and hand them a cash boost when it’s needed most.
The new legislation is expected to apply to accounting periods on or after 1 April 2021.
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 email@example.com.