What is a Dividend and how can I issue one?
Over the coming weeks we are going to look at a series of frequently asked questions we receive from clients. Firstly, what is a dividend? We want to breakdown and simplify the jargon around dividends: what they are, who can issue them and how they are taxed.
When you own shares in a company there are two ways to make money. Firstly sell your shares or alternatively, you can distribute company profits to shareholders, annually, using dividends.
Who does this guidance apply to?
Ltd Company shareholders
If you are a partnership you share profits in the form of distributions, not dividends.
If you are a sole trader you share profits in the form of drawings.
Sole traders, partnerships and LLPs can’t pay dividends, because they do not issue shares.
What is a Dividend?
A dividend is a payment a Ltd company can make to its shareholders if it has made a profit.
You cannot count dividends as a business cost/expense when you work out Corporation Tax.
Your company must not pay out more in dividends than its available profits from current and previous financial years.
To pay a dividend, you must:
- hold a directors’ meeting to ‘declare’ the dividend
- keep minutes of the meeting, even if you’re the only director
For each dividend payment the company makes, you must write up a dividend voucher showing the:
- company name
- names of the shareholders being paid a dividend
- amount of the dividend
You must give a copy of the dividend voucher to each shareholder and keep a copy for your company’s records.
Tax on dividends
Your company does not pay tax on dividend payments, however for shareholders they are considered a form of taxable income and are subject to dividend tax. Tax on dividends is set by the Government and is subject to annual change. Currently dividend tax rates are the same for the whole of the UK and are payable on dividend income above your personal tax free allowance (https://www.gov.uk/income-tax-rates). There is also a tax free dividend allowance for the year (currently set at £2000).
|Dividend Income Tax bands || Tax rate on dividends over your personal allowance|
|Basic rate (£0-34,500)|| 7.5%|
|Higher rate (£34,501-150,000)|| 32.5%|
|Additional rate (over £150,000)|| 38.1%|
So, your dividends will fall into one or more of the tax bands listed above, after your personal allowance and any other income sources have been added together.
Our next blog will look further into understanding income tax and dividend calculations.
Class 2 NICs
In 2016 the government consulted on a proposed abolition of Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) for the self-employed. This flat rate contribution, currently £2.95 a week is payable by the self-employed in addition to Class 4 contributions based on the level of profits. The flat rate contributions were due to cease on 5 April 2019 but will now continue “for the life of this parliament”.
The reason for the u-turn concerns businesses owners with low profits or making losses. In order to maintain their NI Contribution record, many self-employed individuals voluntarily continue to pay Class 2 contributions despite their profits being below the £6,205 small earnings exemption.
Having a full NI contribution history helps maximize an individual’s entitlement to State Benefits. For example full State Pension entitlement requires 35 years contributions.
With the abolition of Class 2 NICs, those with low profits or making losses would need to make voluntary Class 3 contributions (currently £14.65 a week, £761.80 a year) in order for that year to count as a contribution year.
CHECK YOUR CONTRIBUTION HISTORY
As mentioned above, in order to maximise entitlement to full State Benefits a full contribution record Is required. It is possible to check your National Insurance record online to see:
- what you’ve paid, up to the start of the current tax year (6 April 2018)
- any National Insurance credits you’ve received
- if gaps in contributions or credits mean some years don’t count towards your State Pension (they aren’t ‘qualifying years’)
- if you can pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps and how much this will cost
Increase in Student Loans
Plan 1 and Plan 2 thresholds from 6 April 2019 and Postgraduate Loans (PGL)
The thresholds of Plan 1 and Plan 2 Student Loans are increasing from April 2019.
The current thresholds for the tax year 2018-19 are:
The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that from 6 April 2019 the thresholds will increase to:
Student loan deductions will remain the same at 9% for Plan 1 and Plan 2 loans.
New rules from 1 April 2017
You’ll be classed as a ‘limited cost business’ if your goods cost less than either:
- 2% of your turnover
- £1,000 a year (if your costs are more than 2%)
This means you’ll pay a higher rate of 16.5%.
If you aren’t a limited cost business, continue to use your business type to work out your flat rate.
Am I a Limited cost business?
There’s a calculator available to help businesses work out whether they’re a limited cost business – if you want to use the calculator, see the VAT Flat Rate Scheme – How much you pay page
Before you start you’ll need some basic information – use the information that relates to your most recent VAT return period. If you submit quarterly returns this will cover a 3 month period. If you submit annual returns this will cover a full year. You’ll need to know:
- your relevant turnover –
- the cost of goods – goods must be used exclusively for the purpose of your business and certain goods are excluded from this test.
You’re a limited cost business if the amount you spend on relevant goods including VAT is either:
- less than 2% of your VAT flat rate turnover
- greater than 2% of your VAT flat rate turnover but less than £1000 per year
If your return is less than one year the figure is the relevant proportion of £1000. For a quarterly return this is £250.
For some businesses this will be clear, other businesses –particularly those whose goods are close to 2% – may need to complete this test each time they complete their VAT return. This is because you can move from a limited cost rate of 16.5% in one period to your relevant sector rate in another. This would happen if your costs fluctuate above and below 2%.
If you’re a limited cost trader this means that you may pay more VAT than you do on standard accounting – you may want to check to make sure the Flat Rate Scheme is still right for you.
A business has a flat rate turnover of £10,000 a quarter. It spends £260 on relevant goods.
This is more than 2% of the flat rate turnover and more than £250 so the rate they need to use is the sector rate for their business.
More information can be found at Government Flat Rate VAT notice