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  • Stephen Kelly

FAMILY BUSINESSES - TAX PLANNING

In the UK families where there is only a single earner are often more heavily taxed than where there are multiple earners.

For example, on a household income of £100,000. A single earner with a business that makes profits of £100,000, will generate income tax at 40% for approximately half of this, whereas two earners bringing in profits of £50,000 each will only pay basic rate tax on most of the income.

One straightforward way to spread the income is to go into partnership with a family member as in the example below.

A person running a business making profits of £100,000 and above could add a family member who has low or no income to the payroll, paying them £12,000 a year which would spread the income however, alternatively the family member could become a partner of the business and the profits would be split 50:50 thus saving more tax for the household because £38,000 of the income will be pay tax at 20% instead of 40%: making an annual income tax saving of just under £8,000 (note that self-employed National Insurance contributions implications also have to be considered).

There are other reasons why a business may need to be set up as a limited company as opposed to unincorporated (sole trader or partnership). From a Tax perspective one reason is the fact that companies pay lower rates of tax (currently 19%, with a top rate of 25% coming in next year).

This also give the options issuing shares to a spouse/civil partner and/or children, using married/civil partners business owners with two adult children as an example two business partners who own 51% and 49% of the issued ordinary shares of their limited company could pass a resolution for 20 ‘A’ ordinary shares to be issued and give 10 each to their two adult children and dividends could then be paid on children on those ‘A’ shares.

Whilst there may be a view that bringing in a new partner or shareholder to reduce taxation could come under scrutiny from HMRC, in the absence of any specific tax case law against the proposed share structure any such planning should be acceptable to HMRC, especially if there is a justifiable commercial/practical reason for doing so

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