How to get your Limited Company name just right

So you’ve decided to form your own Limited Company, congratulations! While it’s a fantastically exciting time for new employment adventures, there are a few things you’ll need to get in order before you can trade through your company, and one of them is your company name. How do you go about doing it, what’s required, and how do you check if it’s even available?

This blog looks at all the factors to consider when choosing the name to ensure that it complies with the rules set by Companies House.


Limited or Ltd – which one to choose?

The first thing to note is that all private Limited Companies in the UK must have either ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’ at the end of their name.

Beware: If you register with ‘Limited’ you can use ‘Ltd’, but if you register with ‘Ltd’ you can’t use ‘Limited’. Make sure you choose the right option.


What’s the right name for you and your company?

The perfect company name lets prospective clients know what you do and that you mean business. Here are a few things to consider:

  • What industry are you in, and can your company name reflect this? If you’re an IT contractor for example, portray what you do straight away to your prospective clients
  • How creative do you want to be? Would you prefer to appear serious, or stand out from the crowd with your uniqueness? Made-up words or acronyms can give an individual feel
  • Will your personal name feature in the company name? As in ‘Joe Bloggs IT Contracting Limited’ for instance
  • How will your company name sit alongside your personal marketing strategy (if you have one)?
  • Will your name reflect you as an individual, or your company?


Deciding what your personal and/or company image is will probably be the most difficult part of creating a name. Write a list and get an idea for what feels right to you.

Another tip would be to look at your direct competitors’ names – what do you like/dislike about them, and how will you stand out against them to your prospective client base?


What’s generally allowed?

As long as the name is unique there’s a wide range of choice available. Some people choose random words or phrases as they’re not intending to use the company name as a brand to trade on. If this is the case for you then you’ll probably be less concerned about what the name sounds like, which gives you even greater choice.

If you intend to incorporate the company name in your marketing strategy then just bear in mind that more often than not the most obvious choices have already been taken, so you may have to get a bit creative with it. Even if you can’t find something that you really like it’s still possible to use a ‘Trading Name’ that fits, as long as this doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s name or trademark. To do this you’ll still need to display your registered company name on all documentation and your website, but you can add something like ‘Stellar Computing Genius is a trading name of Xylo 2013 Ltd’.

If you’re professionally qualified, such as a Chartered Accountant, then you may be able to obtain permission to use this in your company name if you want to, but remember to check that the full company name remains entirely unique.

Here are a few rules and considerations every contractor must abide by:

  • The name can’t be the same (or too similar) to an existing name from the Companies House index of names. With expressed permission from the other name owner you can get around this, but this is based on exceptional circumstances only. To check if it’s already been taken, visit the Companies House website
  • Your company name can’t include a ‘sensitive’ word or expression. It also can’t imply business superiority, a particular status or specific function. For example, you can’t use the word ‘bank’, as this would need to be approved by the Financial Conduct Authority
  • National words such as ‘British’, ‘Great British’, ‘Great Britain’, ‘United Kingdom’ or ‘International’ are strictly controlled. Only Companies House will allow these based on exceptional circumstances
  • The name can’t have nor indicate any connections with the Government or local authorities
  • Be creative – but not rude! Offensive names are not permitted
  • Characters, symbols and punctuation can also be restricted


Beware: You may wish to call your company whatever you like, but Companies House has the power to reject any name they feel doesn’t comply with the points above. So save yourself time, effort (and potentially money) and make sure you comply to get it right first time.


Can you reserve a company name?

While you might know what name you’d like to use, you may not be quite ready to register your Limited Company. So what do you do? Unfortunately you can’t reserve your company name, but you can set up your Limited Company in a ‘dormant’ state.

Beware: Even though the company is dormant, your legal responsibilities as a Director are still active. Make sure you’re aware of what’s required of you while your company is dormant.


Can you change it further down the line?

If you want or need to change your company name you can do so in two ways:

  • Special resolution – if you change the name using a special resolution, you must file a copy of the resolution, a completed NM01 form and the appropriate fee with Companies House
  • Provision in the company’s articles – if you change the company name by means provided for in the company’s articles, you must file a NM04 form and the appropriate fee with Companies House.


Beware: Changing your company name through Companies House isn’t the only place you’ll have to do so. If you have social media platforms, stationery, or other mediums which carry your old name, these will all have to be changed, which can get costly. Our advice is make sure you like your name before you register it!


As part of Intouch’s monthly fixed fee, company incorporation is included. Our specialist team will make sure you’re eased into Limited Company ownership knowing that the name, information requirements and paperwork are fully compliant and have been appropriately filed with Companies House. Good luck!


This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.


How to set up a new company

While setting up a Limited Company tends to involve more costs and admin than operating as a Sole Trader or under an Umbrella agreement, it also offers a wealth of benefits. Among them are greater tax efficiency, less personal liability and more control over your contracting business and personal finances.

If you’re certain that your skills are in demand and are confident that you can charge your desired day rate for your services, here’s what you need to do to set up your new business:


Choose a company name

Here’s the fun part – what do you want to call your company? This is completely down to personal preference; would you rather an abstract name, or an informative one that lets prospects know exactly what you do? Our top tips would be to research online for inspiration, brainstorm ideas and test a few of your favourites on friends and family. Before you get your heart set on anything, check with Companies House that your preferred name is available.


Incorporate your company

If you’re going it alone, you’ll be responsible for ‘incorporating’ your company, which essentially means registering with Companies House. Along with your company’s name and address, you’ll need:

  • Details of the appointed directors, who’ll control the business (this is likely to be you but may also include a partner/spouse).
  • Details of the company’s shares – for instance, you may have decided on shared ownership with a partner/spouse. If so, they’ll need to agree to forming the company and the written rules, called the ‘memorandum and articles of association.’
  • To check what your SIC code is, which identifies the nature of your business.
  • To establish a company bank account, register for VAT and set up a payroll scheme.


Pulling together all the required information can be slightly daunting; also, how you set up your company can affect how tax efficient you are further down the line. This is why you should consider seeking advice from a professional at Intouch, who will also help to ensure that you’re clued up about IR35 tax legislation. Do this and you’ll also have much more time available to channel into the next, important task…


Getting your name out there

With your company created, it’s time to shout about it from the rooftops and get your name out there. Take time to research different marketing and promotional tactics; how are you going to show prospects what you have to offer and encourage them to choose YOU to satisfy their next contract?


At Intouch Accounting our Personal Accountants get your new company all set up for free, and work with you to help you make the right business decisions and work in the most tax efficient way. We know that taking the first steps into contracting is a big decision, so we’re happy to chat through your questions even if you’re not ready to get going just yet. Get in touch with one of our expert team members today to find out more.


Related reads:

Venturing into contracting? Download our free guide now

Calculate your take-home pay and find out if Limited is right for you

Contractor Accountants – do you get what you pay for?


This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.


The pros and cons of a Limited Company for a contractor

After much deliberation, you’ve decided to go it alone and set up as a contractor. You’ve polished your CV and LinkedIn profile and have started looking for your first contract, but you’re yet to decide on one important factor: your new company’s trading structure.

As a contractor, you can either choose to set up as a Limited Company, a Sole Trader or work under a so-called ‘Umbrella’ agreement. This article examines the main pros and cons of operating as a Limited Company.



Registering as a Limited Company tends to be the most tax-efficient way of operating, particularly if your annual income is likely to exceed £40,000. As a director and shareholder in the business, you can opt to take your income in the form of dividends, which will reduce National Insurance costs.

Claimable expenses

Further savings can be made through claiming back certain business expenses, such as home office costs, childcare and mileage.

More control

As the director, you make the decisions and have full control over how your business is run, as well as your personal income and therefore rates of tax. This means no compromising with partners, or relying on third parties to collect payment for your services.

Limited personal liability

With a Limited Company, your personal finances are separate from business assets. So, if something were to go wrong, you’d only lose money from the company.

More professional image

Trading as a Limited Company gives off a more professional image, which can help you to attract and retain clients, particularly larger ones.



More administration

As director, you have to ensure that your business is compliant with company law and are required to do everything from filing accounts to preparing tax returns and general bookkeeping. It’s down to you to familiarise yourself with the punitive IR35 legislation, too.

Greater responsibility

Acting as director does carry considerable responsibility. Not only will you have to conduct admin tasks on a regular basis, but it’s your duty to ensure that all information is accurate and submitted on time.

Associated costs

There are several costs related to setting up and running a Limited Company, namely those related to administration, filing and accountancy.


At Intouch Accounting, our Personal Accountants offer expert advice on the most suitable trading structure for your future business. We’ll manage the company formation on your behalf and relieve you of those time-consuming and often complex administrative duties. As experts in IR35, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the legislation. Get in touch today to find out more.


You may also be interested in:

Venturing into contracting? Download our free guide now

Calculate your take-home pay and find out if Limited is right for you

Contractor Accountants – do you get what you pay for?


This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.



Be your own boss this New Year, with our steps on taking the leap from humdrum permanent to self-employed success

Be your own boss in 2017

As we all settle back into our usual working routines, the Christmas break seems nothing more than a distant pleasant memory. How many of you started the year by deciding that 2017 would be the year you’d become your own boss?


It’s not uncommon to be full of determination when New Year Resolutions are made, but after a week of being back in the routine, maybe looking after children, and getting on with your day-to-day responsibilities, your dreams of solo greatness can easily flitter away….


So what can you do about it?

Intouch are here to save your resolution! We appreciate how life can get in the way of taking the leap, so this blog is here to show you how easy it is to take small steps towards reaching your goal in 2017.


Step 1 – Consider your professional worth

Wouldn’t it be great if you could continue with your career, but work when you want, for who you want, whilst charging a day rate of your choice (within reason of course!). Contracting allows you to do just that. Handsome day rates that traditionally outweigh those you’d expect in permanent employment are just some of the bonuses, so you owe it to yourself to see just how much you could be earning doing your current role, but for a whole range of clients instead of just one.


Take a look at a few different contractor job sites to see what types of going rates are currently being offered for your level of experience and qualifications. This should inspire you with what your dream could look like financially.


Step 2 – Understand what the market is asking for

Are you professionally in demand? Hopefully from your research in step one, you’ll have gotten a ‘feel’ for what people are currently recruiting for, and whether you’ve got the goods.


If the answer is ‘no’ but you’re not far off, don’t let this deter you. Consider updating your skills to match what’s required, and whether your professional presence would make you employable. Step three explores this in greater detail…


Step 3 – Get your self-promotion up to scratch

If you came across your own CV, LinkedIn profile or business website, would you hire you? When in permanent employment, updating these areas usually falls by the wayside as you may not be actively on the lookout for new work in the same way as if you were freelancing or contracting.


Ensure you get these areas updated, and keep them that way. Be sure to advertise any skills you’re currently updating, the types of work you’d be interested in, and possible availability. If you have any personal side projects you’ve also been working on, be sure to showcase them. They’re your platforms so don’t be afraid to show off professionally.


Step 4 – Try a bit on the side

If you’re not quite ready to take the full leap into contracting, why not dip your toe with some extra work in the evening or weekend? Start off small, maybe a short-term contract with a client you’ve previously worked for. They will already be confident about your calibre of work and you’ll probably be more comfortable with them too.


When you near completion with your first contract, consider how it went. Did you look forward to getting home from your permanent role when you could complete more of it? If this sounds like you, then you know the contractor’s life is for you.


Step 5 – Seek professional advice

Traditionally when people think of being self-employed, they think it means you’re totally alone to try and make the best of it. For contractors, this couldn’t be further from the truth!


With the support and professional guidance of a contractor accountant such as Intouch Accounting, you’ll know exactly how to make the most of your contractor income to ensure you’re maximising your take home pay. Not only that, we’re able to advise you on all aspects of contracting from an accounting point of view, to ensure you’re getting the most from your Limited Company.


Intouch are here to answer all of your questions

Whether you’re ready to take the leap into contracting and need advice on setting up your Limited Company, or are in the very first stages and need to talk to a professional about your options, our team of expert advisers are here to answer all of your questions. Get in touch today!


If you’d like to keep reading, take a look at our top New Year Resolutions for the ultimate contracting success in 2017. Download them for free now.


This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

When passion turns to profit – 5 reasons to become a Limited Company contractor

When passion turns to profit

Becoming a Limited Company contractor may seem like a big step but, when taken properly, it’s a savvy move that could see a quantum leap in your business (and your bottom line).


When you’re pursuing your passion as a contractor, operating under an Umbrella company looks like an attractive option – with its minimal paperwork and administration. Happy days.


But if you want to turn your passion into more pounds in your pocket, you may want to consider contracting through your own Limited Company. You’ll not only reduce your tax burden, but your business will become more of a magnet for prospective clients.


What are the advantages of contracting via a Limited Company?

There are scores of reasons for “going Limited” and trading through your own Limited Company, especially if you earn £30,000 a year or more and plan on contracting for at least three to six months. We walk you through five of the main incentives.


1. Tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs)

You’ll be hard pushed to find someone – anyone – who doesn’t want to pay less tax.

As a Limited Company director, the bulk of your income is made up of dividends, which are subject to a different tax than a regular salary. Plus, National Insurance Contributions (NICs) aren’t payable on dividends. All of this means more money in your pocket at the end of the month.

Last year’s Summer Budget may have increased dividend taxation after the first £5,000 but this shouldn’t deter would-be contractors opting for the Limited Company option. After all, at the top end, you can still take home significantly more of your contract value compared to when you operate through an Umbrella company.

Why not use our take home pay calculator to see how much you can expect to take through your Limited Company versus an Umbrella?


2. Expenses

The more allowable business expenses you claim, the less you’ll owe the taxman.

Given that business expenses are deducted from Limited Company profits (and you only incur tax on profits), if your profits are reduced, your tax bill will be too.

As a Limited Company contractor, the range of expenses you can claim tax relief on is far broader than when you work under an Umbrella company.


3. VAT Flat Rate scheme

If your Limited Company taxable turnover is £150,000 or less (excluding VAT), you’re eligible to join the Flat Rate Scheme (FRS), which means you:

  • pay a fixed rate of VAT
  • keep the difference between the amount you charge your clients and pay to HMRC


Money-saving benefits aside, the FRS simplifies your record keeping and VAT calculations (never a bad thing). By contrast, if you choose to go down the Umbrella route, you won’t be able to take advantage of the FRS at all.


4. Liability

As a director of a Limited Company, you’re protected by having limited liability.

So, even if the worst happens and your business goes down the pan, you’ll only be personally responsible for your company’s debts to the extent of any shares you paid for and unsecured loans made to the company.

This is because your Limited Company has a separate legal personality. In other words, your clients enter into contracts with your Limited Company as an entity, not you as its director.


5. Client confidence

Appearances count for a lot in business and having a Limited Company structure can instil confidence in clients and potential clients, some of whom equate ‘Ltd’ with professionalism.

Many businesses won’t even take you on for a contract if you don’t have a registered Limited Company.


When is the best time to become a Limited Company contractor?

Conventional wisdom says that, while your earnings are fairly modest, it’s best to stay on the Umbrella pathway because your tax and accounting responsibilities are fairly basic. You can comfortably do a DIY job on your Self Assessment (and save yourself accountancy fees).

In reality, working as a Limited Company contractor isn’t just about saving money. It’s about keeping the financial health of your business and personal lives separate. There’s no better time to do this than now.


How do you start working as a Limited Company contractor?

Before cracking on as a Limited Company contractor, you’ll need to register your company with Companies House.

You have three choices:

1. Do it yourself online

2. Ask an accountant to do it on your behalf

3. Use a company formation agent


The Companies House website sets out the registration requirements, registration fee, restrictions on company names and so on. Or speak to us and we’ll do it for FREE in 24 hours. You can also read our guide to contracting and our blog on how to set up a Limited Company.


If you’re currently working under an Umbrella company and considering making the move to becoming a Limited Company contractor, talk to our experts today about what you need to know and how to get started.


This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

How to set up your Limited Company

How to set up your Limited Company

If you’re ready for a change in the way you work, today is a good day to get started. Maybe you’ve been in permanent employment all your life and want to get more for your skills; or perhaps you’re already contracting but aren’t getting the most through your current arrangement via an Umbrella or agent. Or are you a student approaching graduation and prefer the idea of being your own boss instead of getting stuck into the 9-5 daily grind?


Why bother?

As a contractor you can:

  • keep more of your earnings
  • be your own boss
  • control how, when and where you work
  • decide who you work for and how


There are already 4.7 million self-employed workers in the UK right now. Everyone will have different motivations for going into contracting and for those looking on with envy, quite often the only thing stopping them is…themselves.

Do some research into the level of demand for your skills and the day rate you can command and you may find the confidence you need to take the plunge.


It’s not what you make, it’s what you take

If you expect to earn at least £30,000 per annum and to be contracting for more than three months, working through your own Limited Company will mean you can enjoy more freedoms and maximise your take home pay. Our Ready, set, go…into contracting guide gives you more insight into what being a contractor entails.


The first step to setting up a Limited Company…

Know what you’re getting yourself into and understand the responsibilities you’ll have with your own Limited Company. But don’t be alarmed, just make sure you get to grips with what’s what.

We work with contractors every day, helping them run their Limited Company in the best way depending on their individual circumstances. We know exactly how to set up your Limited Company. We can help you incorporate your company within 24 hours and register you for VAT and PAYE. To fully appreciate your responsibilities as a Director, you can have a chat with our experts. You are ultimately responsible for your company throughout the year but we’ll help guide you through everything that needs doing.


Get yourself out there

With the freedom to work where you want, you are the master of your destiny so you need to be active in finding your next contract. Decide on a suitable company name and give yourself a visual identity that you are proud of. Check out our 10 tips to promoting brand: You, including tips for networking, and make sure you harness the power of social media, whether it’s a whole new world or you’re looking to get more out of it.


What else?

There’s lots to get your head around when you’re first setting up your company and working with a specialist contractor accountant from day one can help ensure you don’t miss anything. With Intouch, not only will you get help with everything you need to run your company throughout the year, we also have relationships in place so you can sort out your business insurance and banking without any fuss.

Whatever your motivation, there are so many great reasons to set up your Limited Company. Make the right choice for you.


Speak to our experts today about how to get started and they can set your Limited Company up for you within 24 hours…for FREE!

Self employment advice: The different ages of contracting

Self employment advice: Why contracting is a career for life


Over the past few weeks, I have been taking a journey through the different ages of contracting in conjunction with IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed. The four-part series ran on the IPSE website and aims to provide self employment advice and shows how contracting can provide many lifestyle and financial benefits at different stages of life.


Whether you’re fresh out of college or university and looking for that first job, or a seasoned professional with a lifetime of experience under your belt, setting up a Limited Company and contracting is a career that can grow as you do.


Age 18 to 30; Stepping onto the ladder

In the first of our ‘Ages of Contracting’ series, I explore why contracting can be a great choice for people taking their first step onto the career ladder.


The Flex Appeal Report carried out by The Recruitment & Employment Confederation, shows many young people start contracting age 18 – 24 to find work and make money quickly. Other reasons to contract at this age include the flexibility to fit study or hobbies around work or to fund your way through further education.


Those in their mid to late twenties who have perhaps been contracting for a few years might feel ready to consider setting up as a Limited Company.


If you’re entrepreneurially minded and earning over £25,000 per year, choosing the Limited Company formation route can open the door to even more potential benefits. These include:


  • being your own boss in control of your working conditions
  • greater take home pay
  • cut out competition for jobs by starting your own business
  • the satisfaction of building your own enterprise from a young age


Contracting through the Flexible Thirties

In the second article of the series, I show how contracting can open the door to new opportunities once you reach your thirties. Whether it’s taking a career break to travel the world or settling down, the flexibility of contracting can provide a greater work / life balance without sacrificing take home pay.


It’s also a great time to become your own boss. Recent research by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) found almost 50% of employees are considering setting up a Limited Company. Again, flexibility and financial independence are strong motivations for going Limited.


Samantha Bell, 41, contracted throughout her mid to late thirties and has since launched her own successful marketing agency, DML Strategic Communications Ltd.


In article two, Samantha shares some of the lessons she’s learned along the way, including:

  • keep an eye on the future and where your next contract is coming from
  • look out for new problems that need solving for the client you are working for
  • be positive and professional at all times
  • make sure you know what only you bring to the role


Age 40 to 54; Consolidation and change

By the time you enter your forties, you may well have over two decades of experience and contacts behind you. If you were advised to make the most of your income and savings throughout this time, you should by now be able to reap the rewards of all those lucrative contracts.


In article three, I show how this can be a good time to audit your income vs outgoings to see whether self employment opportunities exist to ease your foot off the pedal or even change direction completely.


David Martin, who contracts in his mid-forties, believes confidence is the key to success:

”My advice for anyone considering a career in contracting is to go for it and have confidence – if you are successful as a permanent employee and enjoy meeting people then with the right attitude you will succeed at contracting.”



Age 55 and over; Flexibility, freedom and planning

In the final part of the series, I discuss the opportunities and challenges facing contractors in their mid-fifties and beyond.


Far from being worried about the future, research suggests those aged 55 to 64 are less stressed and more content than those still in the early stages of their careers.


Travel is a key objective for this age group, so it is no wonder that the flexible nature of contracting appeals. Contracting can also enable working in different environments and with a wide range of people, which helps to keep a career fresh if you’ve been doing it for a few decades.


Approaching retirement

If you are thinking about slowing down but don’t want to stop working completely, contracting provides a great way to reduce working hours without going straight into retirement.


Other reasons to carry on contracting in later life include:


  • making the move into retirement less drastic
  • the possibility of supplementing a pension with additional income
  • the opportunity to negotiate the number of hours and the type of work
  • greater freedom for those wanting to pick and choose the roles they will most enjoy.


It’s never too late to get advice

Whether you’re thinking about travelling the world, settling down or building a nest egg for the future, follow these five steps to make the most of your earnings and savings potential:

1. Speak to a reputable Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to ensure your money is working hard for you

2. Make the most of tax free savings, such as ISAs

3. Build up your pension pot

4. Review your investments – such as stocks and shares, or additional properties

5. Speak to your contractor accountant to ensure your salary/ dividends split is the most efficient for your needs.


Whatever your reasons for contracting at different times of life, it pays to seek advice on getting the most out of the potential benefits. To find out how we can help, speak to one of our expert contractor accountants today on 01202 375562 or email


This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

How often can a Limited Company director draw dividends?

Drawing Dividends

Contractors are increasingly turning to forming their own Limited Companies rather than operating as sole traders or under Umbrella companies. This is in part due to the tax efficiencies available as well as the additional security it offers.


Why go Limited?

Whilst the ‘sole trader vs Umbrella company vs Limited Company’ debate is one which has been going on for quite some time and will continue to do so, the bottom line is that for many contractors, going Limited is the best approach. Why? Just a few advantages include:

  • Higher take-home pay
  • The ability to claim on a wider range of expenses
  • Flat Rate VAT Scheme entitlement
  • Security of personal assets
  • Greater control (when compared to using an Umbrella Company)
  • Better credibility
  • Greater tax planning opportunities


How do you pay yourself?

As a sole trader, the business’s money and the contractor’s personal money are one and the same. However, once a Limited Company is formed, these become separate entities and the money of the company and the contractor are separate, providing additional financial security.


In order for the contractor to ‘pay’ themselves as tax efficiently as possible, it is generally the case that they are paid a mixture of salary and dividends (depending on their circumstances and IR35 status), both of which should always be discussed with an accountant.


For those unaware, dividends are payments made to the owners of the company, ‘the shareholders’, from the company profit. Company profit is not only income less expenses for the current year, but also takes into account the Corporation Tax that will be due. It also includes any retained profits or losses brought forward from prior years. In some respects, dividends can be complex, however as a general rule, so long as the company has the money to be able to make the dividend payment and cover any tax and VAT due, there won’t be any issues.


One question which many contractors ask time and time again, however is:


How often can you draw dividends?

There are two types of dividend – Interim and Final. Interim dividends are those paid throughout the year, with Final dividends paid once annual accounts have been completed. Within a small company, the accounts are rarely complex, which means Interim dividends can be paid throughout the financial year. It is worth noting here that dividends are received on the date they are declared and, as such, it is important to consider the declaration date when declaring dividends close to the end of the tax year, as it can be an incredibly useful tax planning tool.


To answer the question asked however, it is important to understand that the frequency with which dividends are declared is much less important than whether they are legal or not. An illegal dividend, as outlined in The Companies Act 2006, Section 830, states that, ‘a company may only make a distribution out of profits available for the purpose’.


This simply means, that as long as a company is in a position to cover the dividend as well as their tax liabilities, the dividend can be legally declared. If declaring the dividend would result in the inability to satisfy tax and VAT obligations, it would be illegal and may result in repayment demands from shareholders (the contractor).


For many contractors, drawing a regular dividend is a sound way of financial planning; ensuring that your earnings are as tax efficient as possible and that a regular income is received. So long as the dividend is legal, the frequency at which they are drawn is down to the individual contractor’s discretion; something which is great news to contractors worrying that a dividend could perhaps only be taken at the end of a financial year.


For further advice on drawing dividends from a Limited Company, why not see our full guide, or for full financial planning support, give us a call today on 01202 375 562 to discuss how Intouch Accounting’s team of expert Contractor Accountants could help you make the most of your Limited Company.


This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

What to consider when becoming a contractor

What to consider when becoming a contractor

It’s safe to say that almost everyone knows someone who has decided to take the leap into contracting. Be it for lifestyle or financial reasons, or maybe even the outcome from starting a family, more and more people are seeing the benefits from entering the world of contracting.


But how do you become a contractor, what’s involved and what do you need to consider? In this blog we set out to answer the top five questions asked by contractor newbies, in order to help get you started on this exciting new venture!


Step 1 – Check the current market for a demand in your skills

Before quitting your job, make sure there’s a demand for the type of work you do and the skill sets that you possess. Take a look at some job boards such as Contractor UK and CWJobs to get a feel for what’s currently in demand. Sites like IT Jobs Watch and testing circle will give you an indication into the types of day rates you can commision, which will put you in good stead when gauging how much you can expect to earn.


Step 2 – Decide on what your trading structure should be

Will you trade through your own Limited Company, or work under an Umbrella company? Do the contracts you’re applying for state whether you need to be Limited, or do you want to have your own professional presence as a Limited Company? We appreciate that deciding on your trading structure can be daunting, as there are many things to consider. Download our guide: Limited Company or Umbrella – which is the right choice for you? to fully understand the pros and cons for each and how your chosen structure will affect your overall take home pay.


Still unsure of which direction to take? Our advisers can tell you whether your contracting circumstances would make you suitable to trade through your own Limited Company. Speak to them today, call 01202 375 562.


Step 3 – Understand IR35 and how you can claim expenses

Have you heard of IR35 but unsure of what it is? In short, IR35 determines whether you are an independent contractor of your own accord, or are acting as a disguised employee. Being regarded as ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ of IR35 will have a significant impact on your ability to claim tax on both your earnings and things like expenses, so it’s important to understand the impact of IR35.


If you decide to go Limited, your contractor accountant should be able to guide you on IR35. Here at Intouch Accounting we include IR35 contract risk assessments as part of our monthly service fee. To see what else is included take a look at the full list of service inclusions.


Are you considering travelling for contracts or purchasing specific equipment, but worried about your ability to claim it back? The resources section of our website has an extensive range of guides, specific to the different types of expenses you can claim for. We have also created an ebrief that explores the changes to how contractors can claim for business expenses that will come into affect in April 2016. Download it now so that you are up to speed with what you can claim for when contracting.


Step 4 – be prepared

When scouting for new contracts make sure your ‘shop-front’ is dressed and ready to receive new customers. In other words, make sure your CV, LinkedIn profile and personal website (if you have one) are all up to date and showcasing your latest work and skills. Shout about your achievements and ask previous clients for testimonials to display on your LinkedIn profile. All this will help to get you noticed and ultimately that dream contract.


Take a look at our blog, do you look like you mean business? for advice on how to get your business website in tip top condition.


Step 5 – leave full time employment and take the leap!

On paper this step is so simple, but in reality this can be the toughest part! Letting go of the security a full time position provides and starting a new way of working that you’ve never experienced before can be scary, but anyone who has made a success from contracting will tell you that it’s the best professional move they’ve ever made!


With the New Year just around the corner, why not make 2016 the year to be your own boss? If you feel confident of your decision and are ready to take the leap, remember that you contractor accountant is with you every step of the way. Sign up with Intouch today and you’ll get unlimited advice from your dedicated Personal Accountant. Plus, we’ll set up your company for free.


If you have questions about the stages of setting up, or just need to talk through your options with someone then give our advisers a call on 01202 375 562.


Want a more comprehensive guide on starting out in contracting? Download our guide: How do I start out as a contractor?


This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.