Umbrella vs Limited Company

Chris Andreou

April 21, 2021

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Contractors

Let’s compare the advantages and drawbacks of setting up a limited company VS working through an umbrella company.

Why set up a limited company?

  • Limited liability
  • Tax efficiencies
  • Increased credibility

Why not set up a limited company?

  • Increased legal and administrative requirements
  • Less privacy; details of the company are publicly available

Why work through an umbrella company?

  • Ease of use
  • Flexibility
  • Entitled to statutory benefits

Why not work through an umbrella company?

  • Costly way to operate
  • Lack of control

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Sole Trader vs Limited Company Guide

Sole Trader vs Limited Company

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A Guide to Claiming Umbrella Company Expenses Guide

A Guide to Claiming Umbrella Company Expenses

When you work through an umbrella company, there are a few types of expenses you may be able to claim for:

Client billable expenses

These expenses are agreed upon prior to the engagement, and are paid for by the end client or agency.

Business costs

Business costs are expenses that are necessary for the performance of your work.

Examples include professional materials (such as textbooks and manuals), training, electronic equipment and parking fees. These will be reimbursed tax and NICs free by your umbrella company.

Non-client billable business expenses

These expenses won't be reimbursed by the end client or agency, but can be claimed as allowable expenses from HMRC-provided that the expenses are incurred "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" in the performance of your work.

Here are some examples of allowable expenses you can claim for:

  • Mileage
  • Professional subscriptions
  • Protective clothing
  • Stationery, postage, phone and internet
  • Business entertainment
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5 disadvantages of a limited company Guide

5 disadvantages of a limited company

What are the advantages of a private limited company?

In the UK, the majority of self-employed people operate as sole traders. While there are many advantages to being a sole trader, you could take home more money and give your business a professional edge by setting up as a limited company.

In this article, we'll look at the advantages of operating as a private limited company to see how it could benefit you. If you're interested in seeing whether a limited company could be a good option for your business, check out our Business Structure guide. If you're already operating as a sole trader, making the jump to a limited company is more straight forward than you think.

Advantage 1 ‚- You pay less tax and National Insurance Contributions

Who can turn their nose up at the prospect of increased take-home pay? Well, that's the principle benefit of setting up a limited company and one of the main factors that drive people to switch from a sole trader.

As a director of a limited company, the way you pay tax is different from how you pay as a sole trader. As a sole trader, you'll pay 20% or more on everything you earn over the tax threshold. As a limited company, you typically pay yourself a small salary so you incur as little personal tax as possible. The majority of your income will come in the form of dividends that are taxed at a much smaller rate, meaning you're able to maximise your take-home pay.

As well as the tax benefits, paying the majority of your income through dividends means that you're able to pay less National Insurance Contributions (NICs) as these do not apply to dividend payments.

Example - Here's a quick comparison of the difference in take-home pay for a sole trader and a limited company.

  1. Sole Trader
    Revenue: £40,000
    Expenses: £1000
    Tax at 20%: £5,300
    Class 2 NIC: £158.60
    Class 4 NIC: £2,655
    Take-home pay: £30,886.40


  2. Limited Company
    Revenue: £40,000
    Expenses: £1000
    Corporation tax: £5741.04
    Dividend tax at 7.5%: 1,406.92
    Take-home pay: £ 31,852.04

As you can see, you save £965.64 as a limited company. What's not to like?

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What are the advantages of an Umbrella company? Guide

What are the advantages of an Umbrella company?

The advantages to working through an umbrella company include:

  • You'll deal with less administrative work. It's also quicker and easier to join an umbrella company, compared to setting up your own limited company.
  • As an employee of the umbrella company, you're entitled to statutory benefits
  • It can be a great option for short term contractors, as they won't have to go through the hassle of setting up a limited company and making the arrangements for it to be dissolved.
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Is a contractor an employee? Guide

Is a contractor an employee?

Contractors can be self-employed, a worker or an employee. Those who are employed through an umbrella company or an agency could be considered a worker or an employee.

If a contractor is a sole trader or runs a limited company, he or she will then be considered a self-employed person.

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Umbrella vs Limited Company Guide

Umbrella vs Limited Company

Let's compare the advantages and drawbacks of setting up a limited company VS working through an umbrella company.

Why set up a limited company?

  • Limited liability
  • Tax efficiencies
  • Increased credibility

Why not set up a limited company?

  • Increased legal and administrative requirements
  • Less privacy; details of the company are publicly available

Why work through an umbrella company?

  • Ease of use
  • Flexibility
  • Entitled to statutory benefits

Why not work through an umbrella company?

  • Costly way to operate
  • Lack of control
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What are the disadvantages of Umbrella company? Guide

What are the disadvantages of Umbrella company?

The drawbacks to working through an umbrella company are:

  • You'll have less control compared to running your own company.
  • You may find it more tax efficient to operate through a limited company.
  • There are a number of umbrella companies operating illegal arrangements, so you'll need to exercise caution before signing a contract.
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What are the disadvantages of contracting? Guide

What are the disadvantages of contracting?

The disadvantages of contracting are:

  • Uncertainty: Due to the flexible nature of their working relationships, contractors aren't guaranteed work after the end of assignment or project.
  • Responsibility: Not only is it the responsibility of the contractor to find work, they are also responsible for their own finances.
  • Employment rights: As a contractor, you generally wouldn't find yourself holding employment rights that permanent employees benefit from.
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How do I set up a Limited Company? Guide

How do I set up a Limited Company?

To set up a limited company, you need to take the following steps:

  • Decide what kind of limited company you need
  • Choose a business name
  • Choose how to set up your limited company
  • Complete the company formation process
  • Open a business bank account
  • Inform your stakeholders
  • Get your VAT registration or transfer sorted out
  • Set up your payroll
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How do I become a contractor? Guide

How do I become a contractor?

To become a contractor, you need to:

  • Do your research: The first step you'll need to do is to conduct in-depth research, and think through various important factors-from finances and tax implications, to lifestyle and business opportunities-to ascertain if becoming a contractor is the right decision for you.
  • Decide on how you'll operate: As a contractor, you may operate as a sole trader, through your own limited company, or work with an umbrella company or recruitment agency.
  • Develop a business strategy: Strategic planning isn't set in stone-but working out a plan is still helpful, as it is a way for you to consider multiple perspectives, identify potential opportunities and pitfalls and conceptualise back up plans you could fall back on.
  • Get your business finances and insurance sorted out: Setting up a business bank account, registering a company, determining the level of accounting support you need and investing in business insurance are important aspects you need to sort out before you begin contracting.
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When do I need a Limited Company? Guide

When do I need a Limited Company?

There is no clear cut time as to when you should start working through your own limited company. With other routes available-such as operating as a sole trader, or working through an umbrella company-it is always worth weighing up what is best for you and your circumstances.

With that being said, if you plan to work as an independent contractor for the foreseeable future, opening your own limited company at the early stages can maximise your opportunities for reaping the benefits of having your own company straight away.

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How do I register a limited company? Guide

How do I register a limited company?

There are a couple of ways to go about registering a limited company:

  • Register directly through Companies House
  • Go through a third party: An accountant or company formation service can help you process your application, significantly lessening your admin burden. Beyond the application, a good third-party service can also provide accounting advice, help you fulfil your filing obligations and assist with other admin tasks.

We've included further details in our guide on setting up a limited company.

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What type of business structure is best for you? Guide

What type of business structure is best for you?

If you're looking to the future with the hopes of beginning a journey running your own startup, chances are you're feeling some mixture of excitement, trepidation, and uncertainty when it comes to the finer details of your plan.

Starting your own business is an immensely fulfilling process and an excellent means to flex your creative muscles, but there's a lot of humdrum of business behind the process of turning a vision into a dream.

One of the most important (and one of the earliest) decisions in this process will centre around your business's formation. You'll have to select which type of business structure best suits your goals for the future.

While the choice may sound easy, you'll be well-served by giving the decision ample consideration. The business structure you select will have measurable implications on the way you make money and do business. It'll impact:

  • How much tax you pay
  • Your degree of personal liability should the business fail
  • How much administrative work is involved in the business (both before it comes to fruition and over the course of its life)
  • Your ability to finance and fund your efforts

If you make the wrong selection when it comes time to choose a business structure, you could be faced with a myriad of complications in the future.

Paying professionals for guidance and advice once things go wrong is costly and, for many, an embarrassing affair-performing research well in advance will ensure you're making the best choice for your company and that you can avoid losing out on money or pride later on.

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When do I need a Limited company as a contractor? Guide

When do I need a Limited company as a contractor?

There is no clear cut time as to when you should start working through your own limited company. With other routes available-such as operating as a sole trader, or working through an umbrella company-it is always worth weighing up what is best for you and your circumstances.

With that being said, if you plan to work as an independent contractor for the foreseeable future, opening your own limited company at the early stages can maximise your opportunities for reaping the benefits of having your own company straight away.

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Umbrella Companies Explained: FAQs for Contractors Guide

Umbrella Companies Explained: FAQs for Contractors

Whether you're newly self-employed or an experienced contractor, there'll be aspects that you need more information on when you're deciding if working through an umbrella company is right for you.

To help you along, we've compiled a list of FAQs that contractors often ask:


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What is subcontracting? Guide

What is subcontracting?

As an independent contractor, there may come a point in time where you need to consider subcontracting-you might decide to take on work as a subcontractor, or hire a subcontractor for your projects.

Whichever option you're exploring, how do you decide if the benefits truly outweigh the cons? And are there important tips you need to keep in mind?

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What is an Umbrella company? Guide

What is an Umbrella company?

An umbrella company is an organisation that employs contractors working on fixed-term contracts. It acts as an intermediary between the contractor and their end client or recruitment agency.

The umbrella company provider will handle accountancy, administration, taxation matters and manage the payroll.

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3 Ways to Register Your Company for Free Guide

3 Ways to Register Your Company for Free

Registering a company is a one off cost of £12 and done through Companies House. However, there are a few different ways that you can get this fee waved with other business services that you need.

We'll walk you through how to register your company for free and the perks that you'll get with each.

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Guide to employing or hiring contractors Guide

Guide to employing or hiring contractors

You have an important project at hand, and you require a contractor's specialist knowledge to fill in the skill gap in your team. You're ready to hire-except that you're unfamiliar with the hiring process.

If this is your first time hiring a contractor, our article will guide you through the essentials.

We'll cover the following:

  • Sourcing for contractors
  • Assessing contractor CVs
  • Interviewing a contractor
  • Payments
  • Contract terms
  • Terminating a contract
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What are Personal service companies? Guide

What are Personal service companies?

While there isn't a legal or formal definition of the term, personal service companies (PSC) refer to limited companies that are owned by a contractor, who is also the only shareholder and sole director. In some instances, the company may also be owned by a very small group of individuals.

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