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Company Owner: Salary or Dividends?

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Salary or Dividends? A Jack Ross Guide

Introduction: The Big Question for Small Business Owners

One of the most pressing questions that a small business owner running a limited company faces is: should you take a salary, rely on dividends, or opt for a combination of both? As a business owner, extracting money from your business in the most tax-efficient way is crucial. This article delves into the pros and cons of taking a salary versus dividends, helping you make an informed decision.

Salary vs Dividends: The Basics

What Is a Salary?

A salary is a fixed amount paid to directors for their different roles within the company. Salary payments are subject to income tax and national insurance contributions.

What Are Dividends?

Dividends are paid to business shareholders as a return on their investment. Dividends are paid after the amount of corporation tax has been deducted from the company’s profits after tax.

Advantages and Disadvantages: Taking a Salary


  • Tax Relief: Salary is an allowable business expense, reducing the amount of corporation tax the company pays.
  • National Insurance: As an employee, you’ll also pay national insurance contributions, which can count towards state benefits.


  • Higher Tax: The salary is subject to higher rates of income tax and national insurance contributions, increasing your personal tax bill.

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Advantages and Disadvantages: Taking Dividends


  • Lower Tax Rates: The dividend tax rate is generally lower than the rate of income tax, making dividends a tax-efficient way to take money from your business.
  • Tax Allowance: There’s a tax-free dividend allowance, which means you don’t pay income tax on dividends up to a certain limit.


  • Company Profits: Dividends can only be paid if the company has sufficient profits, unlike salary, which can be paid regardless.

The Tax Perspective: Salary and Dividends

Income Tax and Corporation Tax

  • Salary: Taking a small salary is subject to income tax and requires the company to pay national insurance contributions.
  • Dividend: Dividend payments are subject to a lower dividend tax rate, and the company doesn’t have to make national insurance contributions.

Tax Year Considerations

It’s important to consider the tax year when planning your salary or dividend strategy, as changes in tax rates may affect your decisions.

Summary: Making the Right Choice

Factors to Consider

  • Business Needs: The state of your business finances will largely dictate whether a salary or dividends may be more beneficial.
  • Personal Needs: Your personal tax situation also plays a significant role in deciding between salary and dividends.

Final Thoughts

As a small business owner, whether to take a salary or dividends is a decision that depends on multiple factors, including the financial health of your business and your personal tax situation. By understanding the tax implications of both, you can make a more informed decision that benefits both your personal and business finances.

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A limited company is a type of business structure that has its own legal identity separate from its owners. It is responsible for its own debts and liabilities, and its shareholders’ liability is limited to the amount they have invested in the company.

The choice between salary and dividend depends on your individual circumstances. While salary is subject to income tax and national insurance contributions, dividends are typically taxed at a lower rate. However, it’s important to consider other factors such as the tax allowance and your overall tax situation.

Dividend tax is the tax paid on the amount of dividends received. The rate of dividend tax varies depending on the individual’s income tax bracket.

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