When you’re running a limited company, there’ll be various pieces of legislation that you might hear about on the grapevine, but don’t fully understand. While it might not be the most exhilarating of topics, director’s loan accounts (DLA) are one of those fiddly bits of tax legislation that you really do need to know about.
This article will cover exactly what a director’s loan entails, the guidelines to abide by, and your tax obligations. This way you’ll avoid any, albeit unintentional, illicit activity. Don’t worry, we’ll explain everything you need to know about director’s loan accounts with as little waffle or jargon as possible.
So, what are director’s loan accounts?
Although the money in your limited company bank account doesn’t technically belong to you, you do have access to it through something called a director’s loan.
Essentially, HMRC defines a director’s loan as money taken from your company that isn’t either:
- A salary, dividend or expense repayment
- Money you’ve previously paid into or loaned the company.
So if you take money out for any other reason, the amount must be recorded in your personal DLA. At the end of your company’s financial year, depending on your activity, you’ll either owe the company money or the company will owe you money. This should be recorded as an asset or a liability in the balance sheet of your company’s annual accounts.
What should a director’s loan account contain?
Items you should record in your DLA are:
- Any cash withdrawals from the company that you’ve made as a director
- Personal expenses which were paid with company money or credit card
Business expenses are any expenses that are incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of the employment. Anything that fails this test is, therefore, a personal expense. For the lowdown on business expenses and what you can and can’t claim, download our guide to business expenses.
Your DLA needs to contain evidence of all transactions involving your personal finances, as well as your company’s, to ensure it’ll stand up to scrutiny by HMRC.
This is a really risky area of running your own limited company, and for this reason, HMRC will keep your DLA under review through the company’s annual tax returns to ensure rules and guidelines are being followed.
Who can take a director’s loan?
As the name suggests, you need to be a director to take a loan from your company.
Why would you want to take a loan?
There are many reasons why you might need to take a loan from your company, for example covering a sudden repair bill for your car, or even paying for a holiday.
The important thing to remember is that the loan hasn’t been subject to either personal or company tax and HMRC is going to want what’s due.
When will I have to pay tax on a director’s loan?
If your DLA is overdrawn at the date of your company’s year-end, you may need to pay tax. If you pay back the whole of the loan within nine months of the company’s year-end, you won’t owe any tax. In other words, if you take a loan in March 2017 and your company year end is April 2017, the loan must be paid back by February 2019. Any overdue director’s loan will pay Corporation Tax at 32.5%.
Do I need to record director’s loans?
Yes. It’s important that you understand your relationship with the company as legally separate – when you created your limited company, you established it as a legal entity. This means that it has its own statutory obligations and accountability and for this reason, everything taken out must be recorded.
What happens if I owe my company money?
If you owe your company over £10,000 (interest-free) at any given time, the loan is classed as a benefit in kind and you’ll need to record it on a P11D, as it’ll be liable to both personal and company tax. You’ll also need to pay Class 1A National Insurance at the 13.8% rate on the full amount.
If the company owes you money
Your company doesn’t pay any Corporation Tax on money you personally lend it and you can withdraw the full amount from the company at any time.
If you charge any interest, this will be classed as a business expense for your company and personal income for you. The interest amount must be declared as income on your Self Assessment and taxed accordingly.
Interest rates on Director’s Loans
If you lend money to your company or take a Director’s Loan from your company there are detailed rules about the timings of repayments and any interest charged or received. The Gov.uk site explains the various rates and rules you need to know – we recommend you speak to an accountant to ensure you don’t fall foul of HMRC.
‘Bed & Breakfasting’
The government introduced measures to stop directors managing their DLAs in a way that means they might avoid tax, known as bed & breakfasting.
This is a method sometimes used by directors to dodge tax by repaying their borrowed money to a company before the year-end to avoid penalties, only to immediately take it out again without any real intention of paying the loan back.
When a loan in excess of £10,000 is repaid by the director, no further loan over this amount can be withdrawn within 30 days. When this happens, the government’s view is that the director doesn’t intend to pay the money back and the amount over £10,000 will automatically be taxed.
Any director’s loan totaling over £15,000 loses its tax relief if there is any future intention or arrangement made to withdraw money.
Of course, you might wonder how they would possibly prove your intentions, but any patterns of repeated withdrawals or similar sums being withdrawn could be interpreted as an intention.
Written off loans
If your company writes off a director’s loan, there are tax and accounting implications that need to be considered. We recommend you speak to an accountant to decide on the best course of action for you and your business.
Do HMRC monitor director’s loans?
Indeed they do – and they’ll monitor DLAs which are regularly overdrawn. Be aware that they may decide that the money is not a loan but a salary, and subsequently charge Income Tax and National Insurance on the sum.
We suggest that you monitor your director’s withdrawals to ensure you don’t step over the £10,000 threshold.
Our advice comes from our team of accredited accountants but it’s always best to get specialist help from your accountant when dealing with things like director’s loans, so you know you’re always on top of the law and not liable for hefty fines. With Crunch, you’ll get access to our team whenever you need it.