For UK entrepreneurs, tax is part and parcel of running a business. But with proper tax planning through offshore business or company, you can reduce your tax obligations.
A Guide on Saving UK Tax for Entrepreneurs via Offshore
Taxes are unavoidable, whether you’re an individual or a business entity. Most taxpayers want to save tax UK legally; however, not everyone knows how to do it. As an entrepreneur, your tax bill can significantly impact your finances.
If left unchecked, high taxes can drag down your earnings and leave you with less capital to reinvest. That’s why having well-thought-out tax planning is often more important than an aggressive investment strategy.
There are multiple ways to reduce taxes effectively, but many advisors recommend going offshore for higher savings and better tax efficiency.
What is an Offshore Business?
An offshore business or company is established outside of one’s home country. It can be set up in any country, territory, or jurisdiction as long as its activity takes place other than an individual’s nation or domicile.
Suppose you are an Amazon seller in the UK who registered an LLC in the US to handle your business operations. In that case, that corporation is an overseas company but also called offshore.
However, the term ‘offshore’ is often associated with jurisdictions where regulations differ from one’s domicile, allowing for more favourable conditions like asset protection, privacy, and lower tax rates. For this reason, offshoring is frequently linked to tax havens.
The Benefits of Establishing an Offshore Company
There are several advantages to incorporating an overseas business, one of which is asset protection. During political unrest or pending litigation, transferring resources into your offshore company minimises the risk of financial losses due to different laws and lack of jurisdiction.
But the primary reason for many taxpayers to use an offshore structure is to save UK tax. By understanding the differences in tax regulations of every country and proper structuring, entrepreneurs can legitimately lower the taxes they’ll pay to HMRC.
Suppose you incorporated a limited company in Commonwealth countries or EU member states or an LLC in the US to oversee your business activities in that location. In that case, you do not have to pay its corporate tax to HMRC because it isn’t covered by UK tax laws. But, you have obligations to the country your company is registered in.
That being said, your tax burden isn’t automatically lowered simply because of offshoring. Without the right strategy, your self-assessment may even be higher—for example, taking a salary versus earning dividends from earnings. According to HMRC, you must still pay tax on foreign income, depending on your residency status.
It’s crucial that you have extensive knowledge of your domicile and offshore country’s tax policies. Consult a professional from Sterlinx Global to determine the best and most tax-efficient way to go about it.
Incorporating an Offshore Company
Setting up offshore may seem straightforward, but it is actually more complicated than it looks. Bear in mind that company registration varies for each country or jurisdiction. For instance, in the US, states have different incorporation laws—what applies in Delaware doesn’t work in Florida.
To ease the confusion, it’s highly suggested to work with an expert who can handle the entire legwork. Sterlinx Global offers company formation services so that you can focus on running your business instead of stressing over incorporation requirements.
Below are some of the general steps involved in the registration process to save tax UK:
Figure out where to incorporate. Speak to a consultant to get advice on the ideal jurisdiction for your company’s registration to maximise tax savings. If you are an e-commerce seller and your target market is the US, consider setting up your company in a foreign investor-friendly state like Delaware.
Identify the most tax-optimised corporate structure for your offshore company. Entrepreneurs have limited options when registering their business as a non-resident or foreign investor. UK residents can opt for LLC or C-corporation in the US or as a limited company in EU member states and Commonwealth countries.
Register your overseas company. Jurisdictions have different requirements for company formation, such as a filled-out application form, incorporation documents, a physical address, and a business bank account. If you work with a local registered agent, they will handle the formation on your behalf.
Have Your Offshore Business Account for Eligible Expenses
Whether you are self-employed, a freelancer or a business owner, your income tax due primarily depends on your earnings. Besides allowances and reliefs, there are also eligible deductions that can reduce your UK tax obligations.
For instance, you can claim utilities, materials, meals, insurance premiums, transportation, rental, training expenses, and other costs incurred from your taxes while conducting business activities. The same applies to your offshore company.
Regardless of where you’ve incorporated it, you must properly account for the expenses to report the correct earnings and calculate the right tax due. For example, you can charge subscription fees and marketing expenses to your offshore company if these are considered essential operational costs.
Moreover, determine the most tax-efficient way to pay yourself for your overseas company’s operations—it can be through a consultancy fee, salary, or dividends from the profits. There are instances when one tax planning strategy may be better than others because of maximum savings.
Proper structuring of your business plays a significant role in its corporate tax, and by extension, in your income tax due to HMRC. If unsure, best consult a tax advisor or professional accountant from Sterlinx Global who can help you figure out the most effective method to save tax in the UK.
Tax Rules on Dividends
Business owners with overseas companies often choose to downstream profits by declaring dividends. Received dividends should be included in their self-assessment return as foreign income. Although HMRC exempts dividends from tax, the tax-free allowance is set to be reduced to £1,000 from 2023 to 2024.
Anything over the threshold will be taxed according to your income tax band—the higher your taxable income, the higher the tax rates applied. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure that your earnings fall into the correct tax bracket to reduce your UK tax bill.
Consider Working with a Tax Advisor
Self-employed individuals and entrepreneurs can significantly save tax in the UK with the right foreign structure. However, an offshoring strategy is complex and requires extensive knowledge of accounting principles and taxation policies.
It’s better to work with an experienced tax advisor to maximise your tax savings. Since every situation is unique based on one’s income, type of business, needs, and financial goals, they will tailor a solution to get the best outcome.
They will assess different local and offshore scenarios that impact your tax obligations before outlining their recommendations. Keep in mind that they will structure your business according to your disclosure, so be honest and clear during discussions.
FAQs about Saving Taxes in the UK through Offshoring
Is reducing my taxes legal in the UK?
Yes, it is—what isn’t legal is tax evasion. Lowering your tax liabilities through methods within the law and a full understanding of existing legislation is legitimate. On the other hand, tax evasion is the deliberate underpayment of tax due to failing to declare income sources.
Can I handle going offshore to save tax in the UK on my own?
With proper research, you can incorporate your overseas company yourself; however, you may not get optimal results. Each jurisdiction has specific tax laws, and if you’re unfamiliar with the ones applicable to your situation, you may end up with a higher tax bill than expected.
Is it worth hiring a tax advisor?
Working with a tax expert is an investment—consider the amount of taxes you can save because of valuable insights. While hiring them will set you back at first, the benefits largely outweigh the costs. Think of the potential losses you may incur if you go offshore without sound advice.
The Bottom Line
While taxes are unavoidable for a small business owner or self-employed individual, fortunately, they can be reduced legitimately and properly. One of the most effective ways to save tax in the UK is to have an offshore business. However, offshoring isn’t something you should do yourself.
Seek a tax advisor or qualified accountant from Sterlinx Global to help you structure your overseas company to optimise tax savings. Our team of experts can assist you, particularly on financial matters. Learn more in our YouTube channel, podcasts, and tax community forum.