Seize your tax advantage: essential information for UK business owners

 

By harnessing tax benefits effectively, you not only ensure essential compliance but also pave the way for sustainable growth and increased profitability.

Tax labyrinth

Tax planning stands as an indispensable pillar of financial management for UK business owners.

Amidst a labyrinth of regulations and 1,000-plus incentives, navigating the realm of taxes can be daunting. However, with a well-crafted tax strategy, business owners can significantly reduce their tax burden whilst optimising their financial position, not just for now, but for the future. Tax planning is a strategy that can encompass your total financial situation, to the benefit of yourself, your business and your family and its legacy. In this article, we aim to delve into the nuances of tax planning, elucidate the disparities between tax avoidance and tax mitigation, and unveil a holistic approach to tax management for UK company directors.

Business owners are failing to take advantage of the one thousand plus tax advantages and benefits available!

Understanding tax avoidance vs. tax mitigation:

Tax avoidance, tax evasion, and tax mitigation represent distinct approaches to managing tax liabilities, each carrying different legal and ethical implications. Tax avoidance and tax mitigation are often used interchangeably, yet they embody distinct principles:

Tax Avoidance: This is not a suitable method of paying less tax and inevitably ends up not only costing an excessive amount in liability, but also an ongoing amount of invested time is wasted. Those who try to avoid tax via these methods can face extremely expensive consequences. Tax avoidance involves exploiting legal loopholes or engaging in aggressive tactics to minimise tax liability. Whilst some methods may be technically legal, these strategies often push the boundaries of acceptability and may provoke scrutiny from tax authorities and often generate huge penalties. As a result, employing tax avoidance strategies removes a great deal of the legal benefits and incentives available to you, often leading to increased, as opposed to decreased tax liability longer term.
Tax Evasion: This is an illegal method of reducing tax! Contrary to avoidance and mitigation, tax evasion involves illegal activities aimed at evading tax obligations. This includes deliberate misrepresentation of income, falsification of records, or other fraudulent actions to unlawfully reduce tax liabilities. Tax evasion carries severe penalties, including fines, criminal charges, and reputational damage. It stands in stark contrast to the lawful practices of tax avoidance and mitigation, emphasising the importance of ethical and compliant tax planning strategies.
Tax Mitigation: Encompasses legitimate methods, sanctioned by tax laws, to reduce tax liability. A carefully designed tax plan ensures that HRMC rules and regulations are adhered to in detail. Unlike tax avoidance, tax mitigation focuses on leveraging available allowances, deductions, and incentives in a prudent and ethical manner, ensuring compliance whilst minimising tax exposure. For any respected director, this is an essential approach to continued success and growth of a business. Unlike tax avoidance, tax mitigation allows innovative solutions to ensure each element of your financial situation is optimised. Elements of a tax plan fit together to generate increased savings, as opposed to individual ‘plots’ that essentially rob Peter to pay Paul.

Crafting your 360-degree tax strategy:

Effective tax planning transcends mere compliance; it entails devising a comprehensive strategy that encompasses various facets of financial management:

Taking control: Business owners gain autonomy over their tax affairs by proactively structuring their finances to optimise tax efficiency. There are many areas of a tax plan that leverage benefits only available to UK business owners. This is where the real power of a Lifetime Business Tax Plan can propel your financial situation.
Ring-fencing assets: Shielding assets from potential tax liabilities ensures preservation and growth of wealth for future generations.
Protecting wealth: Implementing measures to safeguard accumulated wealth against erosion from taxes and economic uncertainties is paramount. This can include business assets and shares, your personal wealth and your legacy.
Growing and leveraging pension funds: Leveraging pension schemes not only secures retirement but also offers tax advantages and investment opportunities.
Achieving required cash-flow: Aligning tax planning with cash-flow objectives ensures liquidity whilst minimising tax ‘outflow’. Many business owners fail to take advantage of very powerful tax planning products for fear of it impacting liquidity. However, the key to a successful tax plan is to implement a strategy that puts access to required cash-flow firmly available and manageable.

The power of Lifetime Business Tax Planning:

There are many products that could be utilised as part of a tax plan. Every situation is different. TLPI are at the forefront of innovative tax planning strategies and are experienced in the most up-to-date tax benefits, incentives and legal directives available to UK company directors. Our key products are the most powerful and flexible products available to business owners in the UK. With specialist knowledge and vast experience, we are able create bespoke strategies for the financial situation of each individual and their business aims and goals.

A robust tax plan integrates diverse financial instruments which, put simply, maximises benefits and minimises liabilities. Two potent products central to such a strategy are:

Product 1 – The Small Self-Administered Scheme (SSAS) pension: A SSAS empowers business owners to harness pension funds for investment in various assets, including property, unlocking tax advantages, and bolstering retirement provisions. It also provides a conduit for ensuring required business liquidity is available, without the tax implications, complexities, legalities and cost of business loans and other financing options. Unlike traditional pensions, the SSAS can have multiple members (up to 11, connected by the business or family) and can take full advantage of a much wider range of investment asset classes. In addition, a SSAS can take out a mortgage, it can loan funds to the company or an unconnected third party, it can facilitate succession, retirement plans and strategies, and protects wealth. A SSAS can play an essential role in the mitigation of Inheritance Tax and can be pivotal in bringing down the Corporation Tax bill.
Product 2 – The Family Investment Company (FIC): A FIC serves as a vehicle for wealth management, facilitating tax-efficient transfer of assets across generations and enabling strategic wealth preservation. It protects company shares for your beneficiaries from a huge Inheritance Tax bill, and protects your trading company from the threat of losing Business Property Relief (BPR).

Utilising tax benefits and incentives:

Business owners can leverage a plethora of tax benefits and incentives to optimise their financial position:

Loaning Pension Funds to the Company: Utilising pension funds for business purposes through loans can yield tax advantages and foster growth opportunities. A SSAS Loanback can be used by the trading company for any valid business purpose. Many use the SSAS Loanback to purchase their own business premises. This means that rent paid back to the SSAS is free from income tax, but also lowers the year-end balance sheet, bringing down any Corporation Tax due. Payments of rent to the SSAS are an allowed business expense. Gains made on the sale of the property are exempt from Capital Gains Tax. The property is also ring-fenced from creditors and protected for beneficiaries.
Investing in Property: Both the SSAS and the FIC can facilitate tax-efficient property investment. Whilst a SSAS can only invest in commercial property, unless via a Loanback to the company or hands-free investments, the FIC can invest in its own choice of property investments –  commercial or residential. For example, a FIC could be the catalyst to starting or growing your buy-to-let or serviced accommodation portfolio. Property investment offers lucrative tax reliefs and incentives, such as capital gains tax exemptions and mortgage interest deductions. It is a tangible asset, that can be ring-fenced within the tax plan, and form part of the legacy.
Mitigating Inheritance Tax (IHT): Structuring estates and assets intelligently can mitigate the impact of IHT, preserving wealth for heirs. Assets are protected from IHT, ring-fenced from creditors, and can be distributed easily and fairly or preserved for future generations.
Reducing Corporation Tax: The ability to greatly reduce Corporation Tax, using a tax plan is considerable. By creating a ‘flow’ within your plan, the business can ensure that the year-end balance sheet is minimised, investments maximised and the Corporation Tax bill at a minimum. This doesn’t mean tying-up funds in inaccessible pots, but in fact the opposite. Strategies ensure that the required cash-flow is constantly available to you, but that funds are not sitting dormant in your company, liable for tax. Tax regulations are complex, meaning you often become liable for a tax penalty without realising it. Lifetime Business Tax Planning ensures you protect all of the benefits you are entitled to and fall within regulations right across the landscape of your financial situation. This includes protecting Business Property Relief (BPR) for your company (a relief that many business owners inadvertently lose, causing a 40% tax burden, simply by failing to understand the HMRC rules on trading vs. investment).
Tax optimisations

In conclusion:

Tax planning for UK business owners entails a meticulous balance between compliance and optimisation. By adopting a proactive approach, leveraging available tax reliefs, and embracing innovative financial instruments, business proprietors can navigate the tax landscape with confidence, ensuring long-term prosperity and financial security.

We know that understanding tax laws, regulations and rules can be complex and daunting. Our mission is to provide the knowledge and understanding surrounding tax planning so that our clients confidently know that the strategic solution they employ is constructed specifically for their own situation. Falling foul of regulation can be extremely costly, stressful and time-consuming. However, with a tax plan in place that has been created to fully address HMRC compliance, rules of The Pensions Regulator and to totally optimise your tax position, a very successful future for business and wealth protection is achieved.

TLPI offer a free, without obligation, 15-minute consultation with an experienced consultant to any business owner wanting to understand how tax planning works and how to implement one. This conversation is simply aimed at answering your questions, running through your aims and goals, and exploring the possibilities it could provide.

Book a free overview of your situation

Trading business or Investment business? 

Many business owners are unaware that investing or holding excess company cash in their trading company puts them at risk of being deemed an investment company by HMRC. This could result in loss of eligibility for Business Property Relief and leave company cash at risk of a hefty 40% tax penalty!

HMRC use what are known as a a series of 20% tests to determine whether the cash in your company represents more than 20% of the balance sheet, or more than 20% of the turnover/profit. However, with a Lifetime Business Tax Plan, you can mitigate this risk.

The Family Investment Company

Family legacy

A Family Investment Company is a private company, set up to protect family wealth, hold assets and mitigate tax, all within HMRC rules. Shareholders of the original trading company can move company cash into the Family Investment Company, whilst maintaining full control of that cash. The cash is held in trust for the benefit of the company director’s family, removing the Inheritance Tax liability and allowing the beneficiaries to receive the full balance.

This surplus cash, now situated outside of the trading company and within a valid investment company, can also be invested in a variety of asset classes, from property to shares, enabling growth of funds. Funds can be moved around within the Lifetime Business Tax plan, to suit the chosen strategies. Capital gains tax will apply to the gains made through those investments (unless coupled with a SSAS to create a Lifetime Business Tax Plan – more info on this later!), but NOT the actual cash held. As a trust, the plan is afforded its own set of rules, that can further facilitate mitigation of tax and achieve elevated growth.

Della Paviour

Della Paviour

Della Paviour. Marketing Manager. TLPI