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The new dividend tax regime was introduced by former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. This has only been in place since April 2016, but it is already to be amended in April 2018, following announcements in the Spring 2017 Budget.
Before April 2016, a basic rate taxpayer paid no tax on their dividend income. Only higher rate or additional rate taxpayers paid tax on their dividend income at an effective rate of 25% or 30.6% respectively.
Since April 2016 the first £5,000 of dividends has not attracted any tax liability and dividend income above £5,00 has been taxed at 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers, 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers and 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.
In the recent Budget the new Chancellor announced that the tax-free dividend allowance of £5,000 will be reduced by £3,000 to just £2,000 for dividends paid on or after April 2018
So what will this mean to you?
Since April 2016, if you have no other income, you can earn up to £16,000 in dividends (£5,000 dividend allowance + £11,000 personal allowance) and pay no tax. Above this you have to pay divided tax.
But from April 2018, you will only be able to earn up to £13.500 in dividends (£2,000 dividend allowance + £11,500 personal allowance) and pay no tax, subject to the Autumn Budget.
This will mean shareholders will be worse off by £225 a year if they are basic rate taxpayers, £975 a year if they pay higher rate tax or £1,143 a year if they are liable at the additional rate. FOr a couple who share the running of their company, this is doubled to £450, £1,950 or £2,286 depending on the tax rate.
What should you be planning?
Provided your company has sufficient distributable profits, directors should consider accelerating dividend payments before 6 April 2018 to benefit from the current dividend tax-free allowance of £5,000 before it reduces.