When setting up your own business, you’ll have to choose a particular legal structure. For example, you can set up as a sole trader or a limited company.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both legal structures, particularly when it comes to taxes. In this guide, we’ll outline some of the most significant advantages of setting up a limited company to help you make the right choice for your business.
Specifically, we’ll be talking about:
- Corporation tax vs income tax.
- Shareholder dividends.
- Non-tax benefits owning a limited company.
Corporation tax vs income tax
The first major advantage of having a limited company is the tax rate applied to your earning.
Sole traders need to pay income tax on all of their taxable profits. The tax rate increases depending on how much money you make, like this:
- Personal allowance: Up to £12,570 (0%)
- Basic rate: £12,571 to £50,270 (20%)
- Higher rate: £50,271 to £150,000 (40%)
- Additional rate: over £150,000 (45%)
On the other hand, Limited companies pay corporation tax on all their taxable profits. Corporation tax is a flat rate of 19% on your taxable income, no matter how much your earn, making it a much more forgivable tax rate when you start to make some serious money.
On top of company profits, limited company directors can also pay themselves in dividends.
Dividends are regular payments made to shareholders from a company’s profits. They usually act as a reward for the shareholders’ investment and an incentive to keep investing.
The advantage of paying yourself dividends comes down to the way dividends are taxed. The rate depends on your income tax band, but the actual rate is lower than regular income tax.
- Basic-rate taxpayers pay 7.5% dividend tax.
- Higher-rate taxpayers pay 32.5% dividend tax.
- Additional-rate taxpayers pay 38.1% dividend tax.
With the right combination of dividends and income from your limited company, you’ll end up paying much less tax on your earnings.
First, just like normal, you won’t be expected to pay any income tax on incomes that falls within the Personal Tax-Free Allowance (£12,570).
But on top of that, there’s also a Dividend Allowance of £2,000.
For example, if you pay yourself the personal allowance limit for both income (£12,570) and dividends (£2000), you won’t have to pay any tax. After that, you can keep paying yourself in dividends that are subject to the lower dividend tax.
Forgiving tax rates aren’t the only advantage of setting up as a limited company. There are plenty of ways a limited company structure can help you out in both the long and short term.
A limited company is a legally separate entity from its owners, meaning all of the company’s investors have limited liability.
Practically speaking, this means that you (and your investors) are not responsible for the company’s debt, so your personal finances are safe if the business goes bankrupt.
You can still lose money, but only the amount you’ve invested. In other words, your liability for debt is limited. Limited liability makes it much easier to grow your company and attract inventors without the risk of failure.
When you set up a limited company, you need to register the company name as a trademark. Doing this prevents other companies from trading under the same name as you.
The main advantage is that you’re effectively protecting that name from imitators down the line. Alternatively, sole traders can have any business name they want, even if it’s the same as another business, which could lead to brand confusion and cheap imitations.
Because of the limited liability we mentioned earlier, Limited companies are usually a much more attractive investment opportunity, making it easier to secure funding from banks and lenders.
On the other hand, Sole traders may struggle to find investment because the investors’ personal money could be at risk if the business fails and goes bankrupt.
In a similar vein to the last point, setting up as a limited company can give you a more professional appearance. Even if you’re a one-person operation, representing yourself as a limited company will make you sound more official.
That extra professionalism can be a huge advantage for a number of reasons:
- You’ll be more attractive to investors.
- You’ll appear more official in the eyes of consumers and vendors.
- You’ll find it easier to collaborate with other companies.
- It shows that you believe in your company enough to register it.
It may sound simple, but the prestige of the limited company title can make all the difference in the long run.
Get a business current account with free accounting software
When you own a limited company, you’re legally required to have a separate business current account for that company. If you go down this route, we recommend that you open a current account to actively improve your financial management.
Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are.
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