Tax Tip

How to take dividends – tip 2

It’s not unusual for a married couple to hold shares in a company and each of them is entitled to receive dividends on those shares. But it is important that dividends are paid to the correct shareholder.

Whilst dividends can be paid into a joint account, they should NOT be paid into an account that does not belong to the shareholder. In other words, H’s shares must be paid into H’s bank account or H+W’s bank account and W’s shares must be paid into W’s bank account or H+W’s bank account.

Tax Tip 

How to take dividends 

I see too many directors helping themselves to company cash and calling it ‘dividends’. But every payment out of the business should be accompanied by some sort of paperwork (or digital equivalent). For dividends you will need: 

  • Review of management accounts and forecast to demonstrate that their will be sufficient funds left in the business to cover future debts (HMRC are particularly keep on this!) otherwise the dividends are illegal 
  • Sufficient post-tax profit to cover the dividends (another reason they may be illegal) 
  • A minute of the board meeting voting for the dividend 
  • A tax voucher for each shareholder. 

We have templates for the last two and we can advise you on whether your bookkeeping is good enough for the first. Hint: if it’s not up to date then it can’t possibly be adequate. 

Tax Tip

Dividend paperwork is important.

There should be a board minute each time dividends are approved as well as a tax voucher for each shareholder.

In small owner managed businesses it is common to run a DLA (director’s loan account) throughout the year and to clear it with a single large dividend at the end of the year. With MTD coming in this will need to be done quarterly.

Before declaring any dividend the board must ensure that the company will still be solvent after the dividends have been declared. It is hard to do this without some sort of management accounts or financial review so keep a record of these too.