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Aren't there any other matters to consider in deciding whether to incorporate or not?
Higher administration costs to comply with company law, payroll and bookkeeping is one factor. Another issue is pension planning. Extracting profits out of company as dividends rather than salary means that there will be no "net relevant earnings" and therefore pension contributions can't be made. But advent of stakeholder pension plans has meant that contributions up to 3,600 per year can be made without need for any earnings. If a person does not wish to transfer funds in existing plans into stakeholder because of high charges, there is a way out: best net relevant earnings (i.e. salary) in five consecutive years can be used for making contributions for next five years, even if there were no salaries in remainder four years. It is comforting to know that entitlement to basic state pension is not affected by taking a salary from company at level of a person's personal allowances i.e. 4,615.
Furthermore, an individual may decide not to bother with pension plans and instead invest in ISA. Often, these can be more efficient than pensions but that's beside scope of this article. If that option is taken, no salary is necessary.
Another factor is business motoring. It might be tax advantageous for an unincorporated business that owns many cars not to incorporate because if these cars have some private use there will be benefits in kind taxed on users. These are generally higher than straight apportionment between private and business for all car running costs in case of sole traders.
The conclusion is that there can be considerable tax savings waiting sole trader who decides to go down road to incorporation. But, one needs to proceed with caution and careful planning. And don't forget biggest advantage of incorporation, which is Protection from Personal Liability. Incorporating is one of best ways to protect a business owner from personal liability. Shareholders of a company are generally not liable for obligations of company. Creditors of a company may seek payment from its assets, but not assets of shareholders. This means that business owners may engage in business without risking their homes or other personal property.
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Mike Moore is an international speaker and writer on human potential, motivation and humor.