Optimum Directors Salary 2020/21

April 25, 2020 - 7 minutes read

The optimum directors salary 2020/21 will be £8,788 per annum, which equates to £732 per month or £169 per week. This is the most tax efficient amount for the majority of directors to pay themselves.

Owner managed businesses can typically decide how to pay themselves. This can be either a salary, dividends or a mixture of them both. Directors, which have no other income should look to pay themselves the optimum directors salary of £8,788. Any additional income should be paid as dividends.

The optimum directors salary 2020/21 is £8,788 per annum. The reason for this is all down to the National Insurance (NI) rates.

The lower earnings limit for NI in 2020/21 is £6,240 per annum. If you earn over this amount it will count as a qualifying year for your future state pension.

The secondary earnings limit for NI in 2020/21 is £8,788 per annum. If your annual salary exceeds this amount the employer (your business) will need to pay NI contributions.

Therefore paying up to the secondary threshold of £8,788 but not a penny more, means the taxpayer qualifies for the state pension but does not need to pay any contributions. Yes, you have read this correctly! You can qualify for a state pension without making any NI contributions.

Why not pay £nil salary?

A company can pay a director (who is also a shareholder) through either salaries or dividends.

A salary paid is a tax deductible expense. The company can deduct tax at 19%, which is the current company tax rate.

A dividend paid is not a tax deductible expense for the company.

Therefore paying a salary of £8,788 to the director saves corporation tax of £1,670. There is no such saving if dividends are paid.

Also, by paying a salary of £8,788 you are ensuring another qualifying year for the state pension is added.

When is a £nil salary advisable?

In situations, where the director has other income such as pension income, another salary etc. it may be advisable to pay a £nil salary. Also, if the individual is already at pension age and it is no longer important to have another qualifying year.

Under these circumstances, it is important to seek specialist tax advice, which we can offer. Getting the figures wrong may cost you thousands in extra taxes.

Why not pay higher salaries?

All taxpayers have personal allowances in which they can earn income tax free. As soon as these allowances are used up tax rates are applied.

When income exceeds £8,788 per annum, NI taxes are applied. Also, when the income exceeds £12,500 income taxes are applied.

The NI and income tax rates combined are significantly higher than the dividend tax rate. Even when accounting for the corporation tax reduction on the salaries, paying dividends is still more tax efficient.

When to pay more than the optimum directors salary?

In some certain circumstances it may be advisable to pay in excess of the optimum directors salary.

Should the director have a contract of service they must legally be paid the national minimum hourly wage. This would typically be higher than the £8,788 per annum.

Dividends can only be paid out if the company has profit and loss reserves. If the company has made losses in the past it may not be possible to pay dividends. Higher salaries may be the only option.

What was the optimum directors salary in 2019/20?

Every year the income tax and NI rates change. As a consequence the optimum directors salary changes every tax year.

The optimum directors salary in 2019/20 was £8,632.

What was the optimum directors salary in 2018/19?

The optimum directors salary in 2018/19 was £8,424.

What was the optimum directors salary in 2017/18?

The optimum directors salary in 2017/18 was £8,164.

How to register and file payroll information?

When directors pay themselves the optimum salary, typically no taxes will be payable to HMRC. However HMRC still require the payroll information to be filed with them.

To do this, the business must register for PAYE using this link: https://www.gov.uk/register-employer

How to optimise salary and dividends for directors in 2020/21?

When income exceeds £8,788, dividends are more tax efficient than additional salaries. This is because the dividend tax rates are lower than PAYE & NI tax rates.

Clearly an annual salary of £8,788 is not high enough for most individuals to live off. The additional income is then paid to the director as dividends. We are assuming the director is also a shareholder.

After paying a salary of £8,788, the first £5,712 worth of dividends are tax free.

(Calculation: Personal allowance of £12,500 less salary of £8,788 plus the dividend allowance of £2,000).

The director has therefore now earned £14,500 all of which is completely tax free.

The next £35,500 of dividends are taxed at 7.5%. This takes us up to the top level of basic rate, which is £50,000 for 2020/21.

Dividend tax rates for higher rate taxpayers are taxed at 32.5% and for additional rate taxpayers it is 38.1%.

Conclusion – optimum directors salary 2020/21

The majority of owner managed businesses should pay themselves a salary of £8,788. We then recommend additional income is paid as dividends.

The salary of £8,788 will save the company corporation tax of £1,670.

A director who earns £50,000 through a combination of salary and dividends will pay personal taxes of £2,662. This is therefore an effective tax rate on the £50,000 income of just over 5%.

There are numerous assumptions made when concluding the above figures. The amounts are not suitable for all directors. To calculate your optimum directors salary 2020/21 you must look into your individual circumstances.

Contact a Chartered Accountant today on 01702 593 029 (MCL Accountants Thorpe Bay Office) or 01702 593 046 (MCL Accountants Southend Office) and ensure your tax position is optimised.

DISCLAIMER – Please note that the content contained in this article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice.