Many small business owners ask this question, typically they are a sole director and share holder and want to decide from a tax and NI perspective what the optimum salary is (the rest of their income coming from dividends).
The new lower earning threshold for National Insurance is £5,824 per year (£112 per week) for 2015-16, there is an advantage to paying above this level so that you will earn credits towards a state pension. Its expected in current terms that a years credit is worth £225 pension per year for life. Employees start paying NI when earnings are above £155 per week)
The Employment Allowance of £2,000 has been continued into 2015-16 which means you won’t have to pay any employer National Insurance contributions at all if you usually pay less than £2,000 a year.
The personal tax free allowance for 2015-16 is £10,600.
So assuming you aren’t a higher rate tax payer and you haven’t used up the employment allowance on other staff, £10,600 would be the optimum salary because:
Saved Corporation Tax at 20% = £2,120
Employee NI 12% on (£10,600 – £155 x52) = (£304.80)
Beyond this point income tax is payable at 20%
Let’s look at the case of Richard and Julie Jones v HMRC  UKFTT 1082 (5 December 2014).
They took a small salary and regular dividends from their recruitment company which was absolutely fine until the company got into financial trouble!
Their accountant (unethically but in an attempt to help their client) suggested they should re-write history and change the dividends to salary so that the liquidator couldn’t recall the dividends.
HMRC then decided to demand PAYE and NI and pursued Richard and Julie personally.
HMRC was refused the right to collect PAYE tax and NI due on the salary, not because the law didn’t allow it, but because it wasn’t possible for Richard & Julie to reclassify the dividends. They had been properly paid and the correct procedure followed. History couldn’t be rewritten and the dividends should have been changed to loans if the dividends were illegal.
The reporting requirements are set out in The Large and Medium Sized Companies and Groups (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2008, obviously emoluments include:
- Compensation for Loss of Office
- Share Options
- Long Term incentives
But it can also include payments made via other companies for ‘Qualifying Services’, these are payments paid in relation to the Directors services as a Director of the reporting company (Section 8, Part4, Paragraph 17).
In many cases this could be obvious for example if the Director used a Personal Service Company (PSC) or if the director invoices the company for management services or for management charges. But often invoices relate to the supply of products and services which don’t fall within qualifying services.
Its worth noting that unquoted companies with less than £200k for Directors Emoluments are not required to report details of the highest paid director.
Its also worth remembering that any related party transactions should be fully disclosed in the related party note, so is further clarification of what should be emoluments needed?