How to reduce your Corporation Tax bill

We run through a number of options you can take to lower your corporation tax bill.

June 10, 2020

City of London where most of corporation tax is paid

Tactics on reducing your corporation tax bill

As a small business owner, staying on top of your finances can seem overwhelming, particularly when you're just starting out. One of the key areas you need to keep an eye on is your taxes, and that's tricky subject to navigate. You want to reduce your tax bill wherever possible-and be in the good books of HMRC while doing so.   

Below, we'll share a few simple tactics you can implement to reduce your Corporation Tax. Keep in mind that these are tactics that apply to businesses in general, and depending on your situation or industry, there could be other tax reliefs that may apply.

And as your business grows, there may be allowances or deductions that you now qualify for, but missed out on applying for previously. As such, we highly recommend checking in with an accountant if there are any areas you're unsure about. 

The basics of Corporation Tax

Advisor explaining how to reduce corporation tax

Before we dive into the tactics you can implement to reduce your Corporation Tax, here's a quick overview of the basics of Corporation Tax:  

What is Corporation Tax?

Corporation Tax refers to tax you pay on the profits earned by your company. You'll need to register for Corporation Tax within three months of trading commencing. 

Who pays Corporation Tax?

Limited companies are required to pay Corporation Tax at a rate of 19 percent (for the 2018/19 tax year). 

When is it due? 

Your Corporation Tax is due nine months and one day following the end of your accounting period. That means that if the end of your accounting period falls on 31st March 2019, your Corporation Tax must be paid up by 1st January 2020. The payment is made once per year for businesses with profits below £1.5 million. Companies with profits exceeding £1.5 million will make their payment in instalments.

Salaries & Expenses to Claim

Claim your business expenses

It can seem tedious noting down minute business expenses amounting to no more than a few pounds-yet it pays to be meticulous, as these expenses can add up over the long run. You'll need to keep proper records of your purchases, and apps such as Xero, BizXpenseTracker and Expensify can help simplify the process.   

Just keep in mind HMRC's rule, which states that all revenue expenses claimed must have been incurred "wholly and exclusively" for the purposes of running the business. Here are a few examples of allowable business expenses:

  • Business entertainment expenses
  • Business travel expenses
  • Business use of home expenses
  • P11D expenses 
  • Pension contributions

For a comprehensive list of allowable limited company expenses you can claim as a limited company director, refer to our guide below:

Forma Limited Company Expenses Guide

Pay yourself a salary

Salaries are considered a business expense. By paying yourself a salary, you're reducing your profit, and subsequently your Corporation Tax.

Early Tax Payment Incentives

Limited company director holding clock

Make an early payment to HMRC 

If you've paid tax early, HMRC will pay you interest (0.5%). HMRC will typically pay interest from the date you pay your Corporation Tax to the payment deadline, and the earliest date they'll pay interest is six months and 13 days after the start of your accounting period.  

Here's an example:

If your accounting period starts on 1st January 2018 and ends on 31st December 2018, you can pay your Corporation Tax anytime between 13th July 2018 (six months and 13 days after the start of your accounting period) and 1st October 2018 (HMRC's deadline). HMRC will usually pay you interest for the duration starting 13th July 2018 till 1st October 2018.

Take advantage of tax allowances and reliefs

Green light

Annual Investment Allowance (AIA)

If an item qualifies for the AIA, you can deduct its full value from your profits before tax. You can claim AIA for most plant and machinery up to the AIA amount, which has been increased to £1 million between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2020 for the time being. Do note that if you're running more than one business, you only get one AIA.

Business rates relief

The small business rates relief scheme reduces the amount of business rates small business owners need to pay. The scheme is available to small business owners who own a single property with a rateable value of up to £15,000.

SME R&D relief

R&D tax reliefs are available to companies working on science and technology projects. It allows businesses to deduct an extra 130% of their qualifying costs from their annual profit, or claim tax credits if the company is making a loss.

Patent Box tax relief

The Patent Box tax relief is available to companies earning profits from patented inventions. Eligible companies can apply for a lower rate of Corporation Tax (10%) on those profits.

Creative industry tax relief

This refers to a group of 8 Corporation Tax Reliefs available to certain types of businesses in creative industries. Qualifying companies can claim a larger deduction, or claim a payable tax credit depending on the circumstances.

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