If you have set up your own limited company it can be really confusing to know what limited company expenses you are permitted to put through your business. The rules do differ slightly if you are a sole trader or self-employed ...
You'd be surprised at what limited company expenses you can claim, but you need to be careful too!
However, there are a lot of similarities too. The guide on the HMRC website for self-employed businesses can be found here. But the first question to ask yourself is this: why do you want to put these limited company expenses through your business?
"Well in effect if you reduce your profits by making your costs higher you are reducing the corporation tax you need to pay!"
There are some expenses you can put through which won't reduce your corporation tax bill too which are known as non-tax-deductible expenses. You need to use your bookkeeping package to keep track of what you have claimed and preferably use different account codes for the non-tax-deductible costs so they can be adjusted for at your year-end.
The basic rule, whatever your business structure, is to work out which expenses are allowable in the eyes of the HMRC. Stop and think, are the expenses wholly and exclusively related to the running of your business?
If you buy something which has a dual purpose for your business and for you personally then you should work out the proportion used for the business and only claim that element. Imagine going abroad for a business meeting then staying a few extra days for a holiday. You will need to proportion the costs so you only put through the business-related days and not the whole break.
A good example of when expenses are tax-deductible or not is entertainment, that is paying for a meal for a group of people. If the only ones being paid for are employees then the amounts can be tax-deductible and you can put the whole amounts through your business and claim tax relief on them (adhering to the current per employee limits at the time), but as soon as one person who is not an employee attends the event or meal, like a client or a prospective client, then the whole amount then becomes non-tax-deductible. The company can still pay, but they will need to add back these amounts before working out the corporation tax on the profits at the end of the year.
A few other things which are tax-deductible for a limited company are:
Business insurance - watch out if you run a business from home as there will be some crossover there. I use an insurance broker to ensure I get the right personal insurance for my home and separate business insurance to make sure I am covered correctly.
Pre-formations costs - if you have started your business, but you previously bought items which you are now using within your business then you can claim start-up costs. Maybe a computer you already bought is now going to be used exclusively by the business or you sought legal or accounting advice before you formed which you need to reclaim?
Salaries and subcontractor costs - it is often advantageous to pay yourself a salary if your limited company is your only source of income. See my youtube video on this.
Raw materials - or stock costs for resale.
Advertising and Marketing - any fees connected with websites, social media, networking meetings and company literature.
Travel and Accommodation - to business meetings whether they are client-related or just a trip to the bank to see the bank manager or a trip to a networking meeting.
Bank or finance charges - connected with credit cards, loans, business bank accounts or the many payment services you might use to make it easier for clients to pay you.
Home Office costs -, but watch out as there are special rules concerning mortgages or rent reclaims. It may be better to use a flat rate to cover costs rather than paying utility bills which could have some question mark on what is for business and what is for the home.
Office admin - like printing, postage, software costs, accountancy fees and professional (legal) fees.
Office equipment - phones/computers and the related software and subscriptions.
Training and continuous personal development - you need to keep up to date with the latest rules and regulations connected to your industry, or learn about that new social media tool.
Professional subscriptions - you may be a member of an industry-specific organisation, or subscribe to magazines connected to your industry.
Eye tests - if screen work is a large part of the job and glasses or contact lenses if they are required in order to do the screen work.
Uniform or safety equipment - if you need high viz, steel toed boots, or you have logo'd clothing or uniform.
The general rule is if the item you bought would be needed whether or not you ran your business then those items should not be put through the business.
Things like travel costs to your normal place of work, child care, doggy daycare, dry cleaning and normal day-to-day clothing are things new business owners often try to claim for, but would generally never be an allowable tax-deductible expense. If you are at all unsure you can claim anyway and risk having a fine or a tax bill if you are ever inspected by the HMRC, or choose not to claim for anything which is not cut and dried.
"It is all connected with your own conscience or attitude to risk!"
If you are reclaiming the VAT on items too, then you should always keep receipts and evidence of the limited company expenses to back up your bookkeeping should you be inspected, and also when you record the expense in your accounting package, enter enough information so you can remember what it is that you paid for if ever challenged on it.
Until next time ...
Would you like to know more?
If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 01604 217365 and let's see how I can help you.
Alison loves bookkeeping and supporting bookkeepers. She has been helping clients to be better bookkeepers in Sage 50 for over 24 years and has been Xero Accredited in accounts and payroll for a number of years too.
She specialises in a very unique hand-holding method of training, helping bookkeepers and business owners to use their accounts software as and when they need support in setting up and producing their invoices, reports and financial information.
Alison combines her role at Silicon Bullet with her Forever Living network marketing businesses and is often to be seen at business networking meetings as she likes to keep busy.
You know what they say: if you want something done well ask a busy person!
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