Comment from leading expert

Laurence Field, national head of corporate tax at audit tax and advisory firm, Crowe Clark Whitehill, advises business owners not to relax just yet:

“Now you’ve submitted your tax return, you might think there is no need to think about tax for another year. But it is worth thinking about, as there are several things you could doing between now and 5 April. Get them right and you could feel the benefit this time next year.”

Dividends: possible tax savings

“The way in which dividends are to be taxed is changing from 6 April. Any dividend income over £5,000 is going to be taxed at a rate 7-8% higher than the current rates. Smart business owners who might be able to control the timing of their dividends should think about paying one prior to 5 April and save some tax.”

Selling a business? Do it now

“With tax rates on dividends increasing and capital gains tax rates as low as 10%, the Government is consulting on reforming the way in which gains are taxed. The consultation suggests that, where companies have retained funds prior to sale, a proportion of the proceeds may be taxed as a dividend rather than capital gain.

“If you are in the process of selling your business, the sooner you can get the deal done, the more likely it is that the work will be done before the current legislation will be in place.”

Dispensations for round sum allowances: speak to HMRC now

“Dispensations for round sum allowances that businesses pay to their employees are to be withdrawn in the new tax year. If you want to pay your employees a round sum amount tax free, you will need to negotiate a new agreement with HMRC. If you do not, your employees will need to pay tax and your business will need to pay National Insurance Contributions.”

Review your overseas business in light of tax changes 

“Controversies about where multinationals pay their taxes might involve you. The rules about where companies are taxed and how they are changing, with governments across the world wanting a fair share of your tax. Just because your business is smaller than Google does not mean you will not be affected. You may be surprised to find that what you have done in the past is no longer good enough in the future.”

Make your pension contribution now

“Last but not least: if you have some spare cash and want to make a pension contribution, it may be better to do it now rather than later. The fundamental points are that: the amount you can put into your pension is changing if you are a very high earner, the total amount you can have in a pension pot tax-free is decreasing, and the amount of tax relief you may be able to get on ordinary contributions could be restricted.”