Extracting profits in 2024/25

Extracting profits in 2024/25

Extracting profits in 2024/25

If you run your business as a personal or family company, you will need to extract your profits in order to use them personally outside your company, for example, to meet your living expenses. There are various ways of doing this, some more tax efficient than others. Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ and your optimal profit extraction strategy will depend on your personal circumstances, a popular approach is to pay a small salary and to extract further profits as dividends.

Salary

There are benefits in paying yourself a salary. Your company will be able to deduct the salary plus any associated employer’s National Insurance in calculating its taxable profits. If the salary does not exceed your personal allowance, you will not have to pay any tax on it. Likewise, as long as it is not more than the Class 1 primary threshold, there is no employee’s National Insurance to pay either.

It is also beneficial to pay a small salary to secure a qualifying year for state pension and benefit purposes. This is advantageous if you do not already have the 35 qualifying years needed for the full state pension. For 2024/25, you need to pay a salary of at least £6,396 (equal to the lower earnings limit for the year). If you pay a salary of between £6,396 and the primary threshold of £12,570, you are deemed to have paid National Insurance contributions at a notional zero rate, which means you get a qualifying year for free.

For 2024/25, assuming that your personal allowance is £12,570 and it is not used elsewhere, the optimal salary is £12,570. This can be paid free of both tax and employee’s National Insurance. However, there will be some employer’s National Insurance to pay if you are not eligible for the Employment Allowance, which will be the case if you operate your business through a personal company and you are the sole employee and a director. For 2024/25, employer’s National Insurance is payable at 13.8% to the extent earnings exceed £9,100 (unless a higher secondary threshold applies, for example, because you are under 21 or an armed forces veteran in the first year of your first civilian employment since leaving the armed forces). On a salary of £12,570, the employer’s National Insurance hit is £478.86. However, like the salary, it is deductible in computing your company’s taxable profits.

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If the Employment Allowance is available, as may be the case if you operate a family company or have other employees, there will be no employer National Insurance to pay on a salary of £12,570.

Once a salary of £12,570 has been paid, it is not tax efficient to pay a higher salary or a bonus as the combined tax and National Insurance hit will outweigh the corporation tax savings.

Dividends

Dividends are taxed at a lower rate than salary and bonus payments and also benefit from their own tax-free allowance. Once a salary of £12,570 has been paid, it is more tax efficient to extract further profits as dividends if you have sufficient retained profits to be able to do so. There are some watch points here. Dividends are paid from retained profits and can only be paid if your retained profits are at least equal to the proposed dividend. Further, if there is more than one shareholder for a class of shares, dividends must be paid in proportion to shareholdings. However, this can be overcome by using an alphabet share structure whereby each shareholder has their own class of share, allowing the flexibility to tailor dividends to the shareholder’s personal circumstances.

As dividends are paid from post-tax profits, corporation tax has already been paid at between 19% and 25% depending on the level of the company’s profits. If the dividend allowance is still available, dividends up to the allowance (set at £500 for 2024/25) can be enjoyed tax-free. Once the dividend allowance (and any remaining personal allowance) has been used up, dividends are treated as the top slice of income and taxed at the dividend tax rates, set for 2024/25 at 8.75% where dividends fall in the basic rate band, at 33.75% where they fall in the higher rate band and at 39.35% where they fall in the additional rate band.

Other options

Profits can also be extracted in the form of benefits in kind, or rent if the company is run from a home office. It can also be tax efficient for the company to make pension contributions on your behalf.

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