Beware directors who continue to draw down more money than their salaries or dividends allow.
The real sting is not so immediately obvious, but it will affect those directors who continue to draw down more money from their company each month than the RTI-reported salary, expenses and available declared dividends provide for. Continuing to do this against good tax planning advice is just going to precipitate a higher tax bill when the year-end accounts are prepared.
The company will face a 32.5% surcharge to Corporation Tax for any loans made to a director in the year if the amount has not been fully repaid within nine months of the tax reporting date. The extra tax paid can be reclaimed back from the HMRC when the director’s loan has been repaid, but as it can take over a year to receive the refund, such surcharges can often be a disaster as far as business cash flow is concerned.
The need to consider the tax implications of a director’s loan often only materialises when the year-end accounts are prepared, and it is discovered there is insufficient distributable profits to cover the withdrawals made. To make matters worse, we often find the company cannot afford to pay the extra tax on an overdrawn director’s loan account, nor can they afford to pass the required bonus as a salary after the event and before the expiry of the nine months’ limit to clear it. The only other remaining option available is the director to repay the overdrawn amount back to the company from private funds.
The new and worrying dimension to the director’s loan question will arise where a director has created the loan by regularly making a series of withdrawals each month from the company’s bank account for private expenditure that cannot be supported by the salary and legitimate dividends declared. The Companies Act now allows companies to vote through a loan to a director and a properly convened meeting that is duly minuted and recorded in the company’s records. That is not the same as a situation where the director just uses the company’s bank account as an extension of his own private bank.
HMRC will want to charge tax and NI on private payments.
The issue here is that the HMRC will be fully justified in viewing these private payments as distributions subject to PAYE/NI. There is nothing new in that treatment, but the profession is waiting to see how the HMRC will apply the penalties to what will be false accounting by the employer under the RTI rules if there are grounds the employer should have realised that the salary and dividends, they were presumably voting through were insufficient to cover the actual withdrawals being made.
The point we hope directors of small companies take on board is they can no longer declare monthly dividends on a wing and a prayer to cover the money they withdraw from the company each month. Every dividend declared must be covered by a signed minute approving the dividend with due regard to making sure the company has the distributable reserves to support it. If companies and directors do not take enough care over how they extract their profits from their company, then RTI may just come back and give them one hell of a headache over the next few years.