How to plan for your ‘dividend tax’ bill

Kirsty Young Personal Tax, Tax

Are you paying yourself from your limited company with dividends? It’s often a tax-efficient method, but it’s not generally tax-free. So make sure you plan ahead and budget for the ‘tax bill’. Here’s how.

 

Dividends and personal tax

As a small business owner running a ltd company, you can often take some funds from the business as dividend. Many owners do this because it is usually efficient, and the paperwork is often easier actual ‘salary’.

When you do this, it’s very likely that you will have some personal tax to pay on those dividends. This is the #1 area we see limited company business owners trip up on – failing to plan and manage this tax bill.

If you get this wrong, it can seem like you are going round in circles. You could be constantly playing catch up and paying tax out, and feel like you are in a hole that you can’t get out of.

So, here are some thoughts on how you could plan for paying this tax and avoid that hole!

 

A quick reminder on how dividends work

Dividends are paid out of ‘retained profit’. So what is ‘retained profit’?

This is the profit remaining after you’ve paid all of your expenses, accounted for the depreciation on any equipment, vehicles etc the company may own. More importantly, you must have taken into account any tax the company owes now and in the future.

Keeping this super high level, what is then left is in theory a pot of money that is available for dividends to be paid from. This may include past profits not yet paid out.

The most important point of all

Needless to say, technically there is more to it than this, but it does show the key point about what profits are usually available. This is the crucial issue of the tax point. Many owners come unstuck because they fail to realise that the ‘pot’ of retained profit that is available needs to take into consideration CURRENT company tax bills.

Personal tax and payment via dividends

When you are paid using dividends, you are taxed personally on these. You can see how this works on our blog on the subject.

So how can you plan for your personal ‘dividend’ tax bill? There are 3 common strategies here.

1) Additional dividend

When the bill arrives, draw the money as an additional dividend to pay your personal tax from your company, when the time comes. BUT (and it’s a big but), this is by far the most dangerous option, as you could be in a situation where there are not enough profits to pay out a dividend to you to allow this.

You could be in a situation where you have the cash to do this, but technically on paper there are not the profits to do so. This can cause further tax issues. For example, you may currently have the cash because the company has a future tax bill due at a later date. So whilst the cash is there, it’s not technically available to be a dividend.

This is the option where you find you can get into that loop of, draw money > get tax bill > draw extra money (that creates another tax bill) to pay tax > next year get larger tax bill > draw extra money (that creates another tax bill) to pay tax > etc…

2a) Set aside some money

Set some of the money you draw aside for your personal tax bill. Some owners will do a ‘provision’ to give them some funds that should roughly cover the bill.

At the time of writing, a solid rough provision would be:

    • 10% of the money you draw, up to the first £50,000,

then

    • 30% on the next £50,000

If you are drawing more than £100,000, you would need to carry out more accurate planning (see 2b).

The keen eyed will realise that 10% is more than the actual tax rate on those dividends, and 30% is slightly less than the tax on the higher rate dividends. Our experience is that if you put aside these percentages, you generally will have the funds to pay the bill. It’s never an exact science when using a provision approach.

2b) Work out what you will owe

This involves setting some of the money you draw aside for your personal tax bill, but working out in advance what that bill will be. You then have a goal to work towards. This will make it easier if your personal cashflow needs fluctuate month to month. It would give the ability to save more some months, and less on others!

For more of the practical issues around Dividends, be sure to check our blog on Dividend Basics.

 

I’m still confused about paying myself with dividend/s

Ask your accountant about payment by dividends, or book a consultation with us. We offer a paid 1 hour, 1-2-1 consultation so you can ask simple questions of an accountant. You don’t have to become a client, so it’s a great way for you to get the help, when you need it.

If you don’t have an accountant, we’d love a chat about how we can help.