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Working through a limited company (PSC)


Phil Snowball General, Jobseekers, Locum...

Working through a Personal Service Company (PSC) can have several advantages and disadvantages for contractors or freelancers in the UK. Here are some of the key advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of working through a PSC:
  1. Tax efficiency: PSCs can be more tax-efficient than working as a sole trader or in other business structures. PSC owners can choose how much to pay themselves in salary and how much to take as dividends, which can result in lower overall tax bills.

  2. Limited liability: Working through a PSC means that the company is a separate legal entity from its owners, which provides protection against personal liability for the company's debts and obligations.

  3. Control: PSC owners have full control over their company, including how it operates, who it works with, and how profits are distributed.

  4. Flexibility: PSCs can be structured in a way that allows for flexibility in how work is undertaken, which can be beneficial for contractors or freelancers who want to work on a project-by-project basis.

  5. Professional image: Working through a PSC can give a more professional image to clients, as it is a registered company with a distinct name and structure.

Disadvantages of working through a PSC:
  1. Administrative burden: Working through a PSC requires more administrative work than other business structures. This can include keeping accurate financial records, filing tax returns, and adhering to legal and regulatory requirements.

  2. Higher costs: Working through a PSC can be more expensive than other business structures due to the cost of registering with Companies House, hiring an accountant, and other ongoing administrative costs.

  3. Limited access to benefits: PSC owners are not entitled to benefits such as sick pay, holiday pay, or maternity/paternity leave. This means that they must make their own arrangements for these benefits.

  4. Increased scrutiny: PSCs have come under increased scrutiny from HMRC in recent years, particularly with regards to IR35 legislation. This can result in increased paperwork and potential tax liabilities.

  5. Limited flexibility: While PSCs offer some flexibility, they may not be as flexible as other business structures, particularly if the owner wants to expand the business or take on employees.

Overall, working through a PSC can be a good option for contractors or freelancers who want more control over their work and potentially lower tax bills. However, it's important to carefully consider the administrative burden, costs, and potential legal and regulatory issues that come with this business structure.

Setting up a PSC

Setting up a Personal Service Company (PSC) involves the following steps:

  1. Choose a company name: You must choose a unique name for your PSC that is not already registered with Companies House. You can check for available company names on the Companies House website.

  2. Choose your company structure: A PSC is typically set up as a limited company, which means that the company is a separate legal entity from its owners. This structure provides some protection to the owners from personal liability for the company's debts.

  3. Register with Companies House: You must register your PSC with Companies House by completing the appropriate forms and paying a fee. You can register online or by post.

  4. Set up a business bank account: You'll need to set up a business bank account for your PSC to manage your finances and receive payments from clients.

  5. Register for taxes: You'll need to register your PSC for taxes, including corporation tax, VAT (if your annual turnover exceeds a certain threshold), and PAYE (if you employ people).

  6. Obtain insurance: You may need to obtain business insurance, such as professional indemnity insurance or public liability insurance, depending on the nature of your business.

  7. Open a payroll scheme: If you're paying yourself or any employees a salary, you'll need to open a payroll scheme and operate PAYE to deduct income tax and National Insurance contributions.

  8. Set up a registered office: Your PSC must have a registered office address, which is where official correspondence will be sent.

  9. Maintain accurate records: You must keep accurate financial records, including invoices, receipts, and bank statements. This will help you to manage your finances and file tax returns.

Setting up a PSC can be a complex process, and it's important to seek professional advice to ensure that you comply with all legal and tax requirements. You may want to consult an accountant or a company formation agent who can guide you through the process and provide ongoing support.

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