Limited Company Accounting Support & Company Registration

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Limited Company vs Sole Trader

While operating as a sole trader is a simple and cost-efficient way to start a business, there are significant advantages to running your own limited company.

A limited company is a separate legal entity from its owners. As such, you’re protected by limited liability. Should your company go into debt, you’re only legally responsible up to the extent of the nominal value of your shares.

Running a limited company offers a more tax-efficient way to operate. Relative to sole traders, you’re able to pay a lower rate of income tax and NICs, as well as claim a wider range of allowable business expenses.

Being registered as a limited company also lends credibility to your company. This could lead to increased business opportunities, particularly for contractors, as it isn’t uncommon for established organisations to specify that they’ll only work with freelancers operating through their own limited company.

You’ll also benefit from easier access to funding. As a separate legal entity, your company presents a lower risk to lenders—which increases your chances of obtaining external financing at a lower interest rate, compared to sole traders. Additionally, you have the option of raising funds through selling shares.

sole trader vs limited company guide

Deciding between Sole Trader vs Limited Company vs Umbrella

Deciding between Sole Trader vs Limited Company vs Umbrella

If you're planning to start out on your own, one of the most important decisions you'll need to make is figuring out how you should structure your business.

As a freelancer, contractor or small business owner, there are three main types of legal structures you should consider:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Limited company
  • Working through an umbrella company

It's a decision that requires careful consideration, and it's important that you seek advice from qualified professionals when you weigh out the pros and cons of each business structure. To begin with, you need to have a good grasp of the basics - and here's where our guide comes into the picture.

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what is limited company guide

What is a Limited Company?

What is a Limited Company?

Limited companies provide numerous benefits, from tax savings to limiting your liability.

But the first step is to understand what a limited company is exactly, and whether setting up such a company can help you achieve your goals. This article will clearly explain the pro's and con's so you can make an educated decision.

In a nutshell, a limited company is a private company that's a separate legal entity from its owner(s). For freelancers and contractors, a limited company is one of the three main business structures that you may use to run your business (the others being sole trader and umbrella companies).

In this article, we walk you through:

  • What a "separate legal entity" means
  • The different types of Limited Companies
  • The pros and cons of setting up a Limited Company
  • How to start a Limited Company
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How do I find my company number?

How do I find my company number?

A company number (also known as a company registration number) is an eight-digit number that is assigned by Companies House to a company upon incorporation.

You can locate the number on your certificate of incorporation. The first digit of the company number is usually a zero, and is omitted in most instances. As such, your certificate of incorporation will show a seven-digit company number.

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How do I restart a dormant business?

How do I restart a dormant business?

To restart a dormant business, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Tell HMRC that your business has restarted trading by registering for Corporation Tax again.
  2. Send accounts to Companies House within 9 months of your company's year end.
  3. Pay any Corporation Tax due within 9 months and 1 day of your company's year end.
  4. Send a Company Tax Return - including full statutory accounts - to HMRC within 12 months of your company's year end.
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How do I transfer/ change a company directors?

How do I transfer/ change a company directors?

You can appoint a new director, terminate the appointment of a director or change the director's personal details online, or by downloading the relevant forms and submitting it to Companies House by post.

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How to Register a Limited Company

Before you begin your registration process to set up a limited company, there are a few things you need to consider.

You need to choose the type of limited company you need (public limited company or private limited company), choose a company name and decide on how you’re going to set up your company. For the latter, you have the option of registering with Companies House or using a third-party service, like an accountant or company formation agent.

Once you’ve gotten these sorted out, you’ll be ready to begin the company formation process.

This involves completing documents like the Memorandum of Association, Articles of Association, Form 10 and Form 12, after which your application will be processed. Companies House will typically provide an update in the next working day, and mail out a hard copy of your articles of incorporation.

Now that you’ve registered your company, there are a few additional items to cross off your checklist.

You need to open a business bank account, ensure that you’ve received your company UTR number and complete your VAT registration (or if you were VAT-registered as a sole trader, you need to notify HMRC of your transition to a limited company structure).

You’ll also need to set up your payroll, update your company details on your website and business documents (such as your order forms and business letters), and get your accounts sorted out.

Registering a Limited Company Guide

Registering a Limited Company Guide

Registering a Limited Company Guide

  • What is a Limited Company
  • 10 step process for setting up a Limited Company
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Limited Company vs Sole Trader Calculator

Sole Trader vs Limited Company

Sole Trader vs Limited Company

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register for limited company guide

Key considerations when you register a Limited Company

Key considerations when you register a Limited Company

As a freelancer, contractor, or small business, it is typical to start with the simple structure of operating as a Sole Trader.

While taxes and other administrative work may be relatively easy when you are a Sole Trader, as your volume of business goes up, there are more and more reasons to take on the task of becoming a Limited Company.

For instance:

  • A Limited Company protects your personal assets. If you are found liable in a lawsuit, only your business assets are at risk.
  • A Limited Company is usually more tax efficient than being a Sole Trader.
  • Once you have your name chosen as a Limited Company registered through Companies House, no one else can take your company name.

Luckily, running a Limited Company doesn't have to be exceedingly complex, though following a set plan will help to keep the complexity to a minimum.

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3 ways to register a limited company

3 Ways to Register Your Company for Free

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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set up a limited company guide

How to set up a Limited Company

How to set up a Limited Company

When you set up a limited company, you'll enjoy many advantages you don't get as a sole trader. Not only is it a tax-efficient way to run your business, it's also a great way to limit your personal liability and increase your credibility with customers. Additionally, it could open new avenues of work that wouldn't be open to you if you were operating as a sole trader, especially some contractor roles.

One of the disadvantages of running a limited company is that it involves a lot of paperwork, but with the help of this guide, we'll clear away the jargon and tell you exactly what you need.

If you're unsure about whether a limited company is right for you, check out our handy article comparing the differences between Limited companies and Sole Traders to see which business entity is right for you.

If you've got more important things to do than dealing with extra admin, you can always take advantage of one of our accountancy packages and we'll do all the forms and applications for you.

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Limited Company Filing Deadlines

Being a limited company director comes with several legal responsibilities. In addition to your statutory duties, you’re also responsible for meeting your filing deadlines.

These include:

  • File your Self Assessment by 31st January following the end of the relevant tax year.
  • If you’re VAT-registered, you need to file your VAT returns 1 month and 7 days after your VAT quarter end date.
  • File your company accounts 9 months after your company year-end. If you’re in your first trading year, your first annual accounts are due 21 months after your date of incorporation
  • File your Confirmation Statement up to 14 days after the due date. The due date is 12 months after the date your company was incorporated, or 12 months after the date you filed your previous Confirmation Statement. 
  • File your company tax return 12 months after the end of the relevant tax year.
  • If you’ve just begun employing staff or using subcontractors for construction work, you need to register as an employer before an employee’s first payday. 
  • If you already have employees, there are a number of deadlines you need to meet for your payroll year end
  • Submit your final payroll report for the year before your employee’s final payday for the tax year ending 5th April. 
  • Provide your employees with the P60 by 31st May (following the end of the relevant tax year). 
  • File employee benefits and expenses using your payroll software, and submit your P11D and P11d(b) forms by 6th July.
  • In addition to the payroll year-end deadlines, you’re also required to:

Send the FPS on or before your employees’ payday. The FPS must be submitted each time you pay your employee. This means that if your employee is paid weekly, you’ll need to make 52 submissions across the year.

Can I change my company's accounting date / year end date?

Can I change my company's accounting date / year end date?

You can change your company's year-end-otherwise known as the accounting reference date (ARD). Changes can be made to your current financial year or the year before.

Your company's financial year can be shortened as many times as you want, with the minimum duration you can shorten it by being one day. You can lengthen your company's financial year by up to 18 months once every five years. If other conditions apply, such as if your company is in administration, you'll be able to lengthen your financial year more often.

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What are Company Deadlines?

What are Company Deadlines?

As a limited company director, there are several important deadlines you need to be aware of. These are:

  • File your Self Assessment tax return: 31st January 2022 for the 2020/2021 tax year
  • Pay you Self Assessment tax: 31st January
  • Registering for VAT: Register for VAT within 30 days of meeting the conditions for compulsory registration
  • Filing and paying VAT returns: 1 month and 7 days after your VAT quarter end date
  • Company accounts: First year accounts are due 21 months after incorporation. Subsequent accounts are due 9 months after the year end
  • Corporation tax registration: You need to register within 3 months of trading commencing.
  • File your corporation tax return: 12 months following the end of your accounting period
  • Corporation tax payment: 9 months and 1 day following the end of your accounting period
  • File your Confirmation Statement: You need to file a confirmation statement every 12 months, within 14 days after your confirmation date.
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What deadlines do I need to know as a contractor?

What deadlines do I need to know as a contractor?

As a contractor running your own limited company, you need to be aware of the following deadlines:

  • File end of year accounts to Companies House: 9 months after your company year ends. If it is your first year, the due date will be 21 months from the date your company was incorporated.
  • File your confirmation statement: This is due on the anniversary of incorporation each year
  • File your corporation tax return: This is due 12 months from your company year end.
  • Pay your corporation tax bill: Payment is due 9 months and 1 day after the end of the company year
  • PAYE RTI (Real Time Information) Returns: A submission of your company payroll has to be submitted in real time each month to HMRC. This is due on or before the intended salary payment. Any tax due from this can be payable on a quarterly or monthly basis as follows:
  • the 22nd of the next tax month if you pay monthly
  • the 22nd after the end of the quarter if you pay quarterly
  • VAT returns: Usually submitted on a quarterly basis, the company VAT is due to be filed and paid within 1 month and 7 days from the quarter end.
  • Self Assessment tax returns: Your Self Assessment Tax Return is always due to be filed by the following 31st January after the end of the tax year. This date is also the same deadline for payment of any tax due but you may also have a payment on account due by 31st July after this.
  • P11D: The submission of the company P11D will need to made by 6th July with any payment of National Insurance arising due by 19th July (22nd if paid electronically)
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Key Things You Need When Starting a Limited Company

“What do I need to do after setting up a limited company?” is a question we’re often asked by users who’ve registered for our limited company accounting packages.

Here’s a brief overview of what you need to do:

  • Fulfill your responsibilities as a limited company director
  • Open a business bank account
  • Keep your stakeholders updated: If you’re transitioning from being a sole trader to a limited company structure, you’ll need to notify stakeholders—like your banks, debtors, landlords and insurers—of the change. With stakeholders like your suppliers and customers, you may need to review your contract, and transfer it to your new company. 
  • Get your VAT sorted out: You may need to register for VAT. And if you’re already VAT-registered, you may request for a transfer to be made to your new company, or cancel your VAT and complete a re-registration. 
  • Set up your payroll
  • Ensure that your company details are up-to-date: As a limited company, you need to meet specific requirements when it comes to displaying your company information. Your company name must be included on all company documents, letters and communication materials. In addition, your websites, business letters and order forms must show your company’s registered number, registered office address, where your company is incorporated and indicate that your company is a private limited company.  
  • Obtain business insurance: If you’re an employer, you’re legally required to obtain employer's liability insurance. Other types of business insurance you should consider getting include public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance and business contents insurance. 
  • Get your books sorted: If you were already using an accounting package as a sole trader, you’ll need to create a new account and start anew. And even if you were managing your own accounts before, do note that the requirements of limited company accounting can be complicated—so you’ll benefit from using accounting  software, or from the expertise and advice of a specialist accountant.
Accountant Checklist Guide

Accountant Checklist Guide

Accountant Checklist Guide

  • Why you may need an accountant
  • Key areas an accountant can help
  • Questions to ask an accountant
  • Accountant checklist
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Small Business Accounting Guide

Small Business Accounting Guide

Small Business Accounting Guide

  • When and why you may want to register a Limited Company
  • Advantages and disadvantages of a Limited company
  • Limited company alternatives
  • When to register for VAT
  • Advantages and disadvantages of VAT
  • How to take money out of your company
  • Dividend tax rates
  • Limited company expenses & corporation tax
  • Annual accounts and deadlines
  • Confirmation statements and deadlines
  • Self Assessment tax returns
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small business bookkeeping guide

Beginner's Guide to Bookkeeping for Small Business

Beginner's Guide to Bookkeeping for Small Business

Starting a new business?

Bookkeeping requirements are unlikely to be at the forefront of your mind. At this stage there are more pressing things for you to think about.

However, once your business is taking shape, you will need to start thinking about keeping up-to-date and accurate accounting details of your income and expenses. But what kind of records do you need to keep?

More than just a legal requirement, basic bookkeeping is an essential part of your ability to manage your business effectively.

Every year, your business accounts will need to be completed. If your business is operating as a limited company, you will need to submit your company accounts to Companies House. If you are self-employed, your business accounts will be used to calculate your Self Assessment tax liability.

Your bookkeeping records will form the basis of these statutory financial statements. They should include information relating to your sales, your expenses, salaries of you and any employees, along with other bank transactions.

It might sound complicated, but take it one step at a time and it's actually quite manageable.

If you're really struggling to stay on top of it all, there are plenty of small business accountants and professional bookkeepers who will be happy to help. So, even if you're terrified of numbers, rest assured that there's a solution out there for you.

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bookkeeping vs accounting guide

Bookkeeping vs Accounting Differences

Bookkeeping vs Accounting Differences

As a small business owner, having a good grasp of your business financials is key-even if you've hired an accountant.

While you can delegate your accounting tasks, understanding the basics will place you in a better position when it comes to discussing your business finances with your team members, financial professionals or potential investors.

-
Previously, we've explained about the top accounting terms and concepts you need to know. In today's post, we'll explain the differences between bookkeeping and accounting. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to two vastly distinct functions and roles.

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accounting mistakes guide

5 Common Small Business Accounting Mistakes & How to Fix Them

5 Common Small Business Accounting Mistakes & How to Fix Them

A broad swath of small business owners are tackling the myriad tasks required to pay bills, invoice customers, cut checks to employees and contend with past-due accounts, among other accounting tasks.

While that might work for very small businesses, it often opens the door for firms to make accounting mistakes that undermine their growth and siphon precious time and mental focus from other important areas of their business.

Here are five accounting mistakes that can derail growth for small businesses and how to avoid them.

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Thinking about subcontracting, or hiring a subcontractor? We run through important tips and considerations you should keep in mind

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set up a limited company guide

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Setting up a limited company is one of the best ways to optimize your tax, maximise your take-home pay and give your company that professional edge. In this comprehensive guide, we take you through everything you’ll need to get started

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register for limited company guide

Key considerations when you register a Limited Company

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what is limited company guide

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Guide to the benefits and drawbacks of five common business structures

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Deciding between Sole Trader vs Limited Company vs Umbrella

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