Navigating UK Corporation Tax: A Guide for Startups and SMEs

Finance and Accounting
Özge Tüblek
February 19, 2024

Understanding the UK tax landscape is crucial for startups and SMEs aiming for financial compliance and strategic planning. The tax year for individuals in the UK stretches from April 6th to April 5th of the subsequent year, affecting personal income tax and self-assessment tax returns. For businesses, however, Corporation Tax considerations are tied to their financial year, which might align with the company's incorporation date or a selected business-specific date. Awareness of filing and payment deadlines within these periods is essential to avoid penalties.

The UK tax system encompasses several main taxes, each with its unique regulations and rates:

  1. Income Tax: Applies to individual earnings, including wages, pensions, and benefits.
  2. Corporation Tax: Levied on company profits.
  3. Value Added Tax (VAT): Applied to most goods and services.
  4. National Insurance: Paid by employees, employers, and the self-employed to fund state benefits.
  5. Capital Gains Tax: Imposed on profits from selling certain types of assets.
  6. Inheritance Tax: Charged on certain inheritances.
  7. Stamp Duty Land Tax: Paid on property purchases.
  8. Council Tax: Local tax for services like garbage collection and police.

If you want to dive a bit more on these, you can find details on our previous Academy post here. Since understanding the ever-evolving landscape of UK taxes is crucial for startups and small business, now, we are diving deeper to corporation tax.

What is UK Corporation Tax? Do I Have to Pay it?

Corporation Tax is levied on the profits of UK companies, forming a pivotal part of financial planning and compliance. The UK government doesn't issue a Corporation Tax bill; businesses are responsible for declaring taxable profits and timely payments.

Entities subject to Corporation Tax include:

  • Limited companies
  • Foreign companies with a UK branch or office
  • Clubs, cooperatives, or unincorporated associations, e.g., community groups or sports clubs.

Current Corporation Tax Rates

Calculating Corporation Tax involves determining the taxable profits of the business and applying the appropriate tax rate. Remember, deductible expenses and allowances can significantly impact the amount of tax payable. Corporation Tax Rates applies to the taxable profits after deducting business expenses.

For the financial year starting 1 April 2023, the UK has introduced differentiated Corporation Tax rates:

You can find detailed and up-to-date information on corporate taxes at UK government’s website.

  • Small profits rate: Businesses with profits under £50,000 are taxed at 19%. A small tech startup in Manchester generates profits of £48,000. Using Nuvio platform together with their CPA, they track all deductible expenses amounting to £8,000. Their taxable profit becomes £40,000 (£48,000 - £8,000). The corporation tax they owe is 19% of £40,000, which is £7,600.
  • Main rate: Companies with profits over £250,000 face a 25% tax rate. A large retail chain operating across the UK earns profits of £300,000. After calculating deductible expenses of £50,000 through Nuvio, their taxable profit is £250,000. The corporation tax at 25% would be £62,500.
  • Businesses with profits between £50,000 and £250,000 are subject to a main rate, reduced by marginal relief, leading to a gradual increase in the effective tax rate. A mid-sized manufacturing company in Birmingham shows profits of £150,000. They have deductible expenses of £20,000, bringing their taxable profit to £130,000. The marginal relief formula is applied to calculate the effective tax rate. Assuming a standard marginal relief formula, their effective tax rate might be slightly higher than the 19% small profits rate but lower than the 25% main rate. For instance, if their effective tax rate comes out to 21%, their corporation tax would be 21% of £130,000, which equals £27,300. You can calculate your marginal relief here.

Deductions and Allowances

Various deductions and reliefs can reduce Corporation Tax liabilities. These include expenses incurred in the course of business, certain types of capital expenditure, and research and development costs.

Filing and Payment

Timely filing of Corporation Tax returns and payment is essential to avoid penalties. The deadline for paying Corporation Tax is typically nine months and one day after the end of the accounting period.

Common Challenges and How Nuvio Can Help

Small businesses often struggle with calculating and filing Corporation Tax. Nuvio simplifies this process with its financial tracking tools, making it easier to manage expenses, calculate tax liabilities, and maintain compliance.

Özge Tüblek

Get free financial insights right from your inbox

Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter
Oops! Something is wrong. Please try again.