Do you have a company that owns a residential property? This might apply to you

Annual tax on enveloped dwellings

The annual tax on enveloped dwellings (ATED) is a tax that applies, in the main, to companies owning residential property which is valued at more than £500,000.

The tax only applies on properties that are classed as ‘dwellings’. This is a property where all or part of it is used as a residence, for example a house or a flat. The ‘dwelling’ also includes the property’s gardens or grounds. However, properties such as hotels, guest houses, boarding school accommodation and student halls of residence fall outside the definition of a ‘dwelling’, and thus outside the scope of the tax.

Valuing the property

The tax only applies to dwellings with a value of at least £500,000. The amount of the charge depends on the value of the dwelling. Therefore, it is necessary to know the value of any residential property owned wholly or partly by a company (or a partnership with at least one corporate partner). The key date is the valuation date. From 1 April 2018 the valuation date is 1 April 2017. If the property was acquired after 1 April 2017, the value is the date of acquisition.

The valuation is an open market valuation.

How much is the charge?

The charge is an annual charge payable for the period from 1 April to the following 31 March.

The chargeable amount for 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 is shown in the following table.

Property value Annual charge
More than £500,000 up to £1 million £3,650
More than £1 million up to £2 million £7,400
More than £2 million up to £5 million £24,800
More than £5 million up to £10 million £57,900
More than £10 million up to £20 million £116,100
More than £20 million £232,350

Payment and returns

An ATED return must be filed by 30 April each year. The return should be filed using HMRC’s ATED online service. An agent can be appointed to file the return on the company’s behalf.

The tax must also be paid by 30 April.

Partner note: FA 2013, Pt. 3 (ss. 94—174, Sch. 33 – 35).

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Salary v dividend for 2019/20

A popular profits extraction strategy for personal and family companies is to extract a small salary, taking further profits as dividends. Where this strategy is pursued for 2019/20, what level should be the salary be set at to ensure the strategy remain tax efficient?
Salary
As well as being tax effective, taking a small salary is also advantageous in that it allows the individual to secure a qualifying year for State Pension and contributory benefits purposes.
Assuming the personal allowance has not been used elsewhere and is available to set against the salary, the optimal salary level for 2019/20 depends on whether the employment allowance is available and whether the employee is under the age of 21. The employment allowance is set at £3,000 for 2019/20 but is not available to companies where the sole employee is also a director (meaning that personal companies do not generally benefit).
In the absence of the employment allowance and where the individual is aged 21 or over, the optimal salary for 2019/20 is equal to the primary threshold, i.e. £8,632 a year (equivalent to £719 per month). At this level, no employee’s or employer’s National Insurance or tax is due. The salary is also deductible for corporation tax purposes. A bonus is that a salary at this level means that the year is a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefits purposes – for zero contribution cost. Beyond this level, it is better to take dividends than pay a higher salary as the combined National Insurance hit (25.8%) is higher than the corporation tax deduction for salary payments.
Where the employment allowance is available, or the employee is under 21, it is tax-efficient to pay a higher salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500. As long as the personal allowance is available, the salary will be tax free. It will also be free of employer’s National Insurance, either because the liability is offset by the employment allowance or, if the individual is under 21, because earnings are below the upper secondary threshold for under 21s (set at £50,000 for 2019/20). The salary paid in excess of the primary threshold (£3,868) will attract primary contributions of £464.16, but this is outweighed by the corporation tax saving on the additional salary of £734.92 – a net saving of £279.76. Once a salary equal to the personal allowance is reached, the benefit of the corporation tax deduction is lost as any further salary is taxable. It is tax efficient to extract further profits as dividends.
Dividends
Dividends can only be paid if the company has sufficient retained profits available. Unlike salary payments, dividends are not tax-deductible and are paid out of profits on which corporation tax (at 19%) has already been paid.
However, dividends benefit from their own allowance – set at £2,000 for 2019/20 and payable to all individuals regardless of the rate at which they pay tax – and once the allowance has been used, dividends are taxed at lower rates than salary payments (7.5%, 32.5% and 38.1% rather than 20%, 40% and 45%).
Once the optimal salary has been paid, dividends should be paid to use up the dividend allowance. If further profits are to be extracted, there will be tax to pay, but the combined tax and National Insurance hit for dividends is less than for salary payments, making them the preferred option.

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Overdrawn director’s loan accounts

In a personal or family company, the lines between the directors as individuals and the company are often blurred – the director may lend money to the company when cashflow is tight and the company may lend money to the director or pay personal bills on the director’s behalf. Transactions between the director and the company are tracked via the director’s account.

If the director’s account is overdrawn at the end of the accounting period (such that the director owes the company money) and the company is close, there are tax consequences to consider. Broadly, a close company is one that is controlled by five or fewer shareholders (participators).

Potential tax charge

A tax charge arises on the company if the director’s loan account is overdrawn at the end of the accounting period and remains overdrawn nine months and one day after the end of that accounting period. This is the date on which corporation tax for the accounting period is due. The overdrawn amount constitutes a loan to the director from the company

The tax charge (known as the ‘section 455 charge’ after the section of the Corporation Tax Act 2010 which imposes the charge) is 32.5% of the amount of the loan. The rate of section 455 tax is the same as the higher dividend rate.

The tax is paid with, but is not the same as, the corporation tax for the period.

Example

Nigel is the director of his personal company N Ltd. Accounts are prepared to 31 March each year.

On 31 March 2018, Nigel’s director’s loan account is overdrawn by £20,000. The account remains overdrawn on 1 January 2019 (the date on which corporation tax for the period is due).

The company must pay section 455 tax of £6,500 (£20,000 @ 32.5%).

Avoiding the charge

Even if the loan account was overdrawn at the end of the accounting period, the section 455 charge can be avoided if the loan is cleared by the corporation tax due date of nine months and one day after the end of the period. This can be done in various ways:

  • the director can pay funds into the company to clear the loan;
  • the company can declare a dividend to clear the loan balance;
  • the director’s salary can be credited to the account to clear the loan balance;
  • the company can pay a bonus to clear the loan balance.

It should be noted that with the exception of the director introducing funds into the company, the other options will trigger their own tax bills.

Clearing the loan may not always be the best option – it may be preferable to pay the section 455 tax instead. This will be the case if the tax on the dividend or bonus credited to the account to clear the loan is more than the section 455 tax.

A temporary tax

Section 455 tax is a temporary tax in that it is repayable nine months and one day after the end of the tax year in which the loan is cleared.

Anti-avoidance provisions It should be noted that anti-avoidance rules apply to prevent the director clearing the loan shortly before the section 455 trigger date, only to re-borrow the funds shortly thereafter