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What is a dividend?

A dividend is a share of profits paid by a limited company to people who own shares in the company, known as shareholders.

Under the law, dividends can only be paid if a limited company has sufficient profits to be able to do so. The dividend is taken out of profits after a company has paid business expenses and liabilities.

The amount of dividends received by shareholders is generally dependent on the percentage of the company that they own. This assumes all the shares carry equal rights. For example, a shareholder owning 20% of a company can be allocated 20% of a dividend distribution.

Taking a combination of dividends and salary is often more tax efficient for company owners, as dividends are subject to lower tax rates than salary. In addition, National Insurance Contributions are not payable on dividends.

How much tax do you pay on dividends?

When it comes to determining the amount of tax an individual will pay on dividends, the starting point is to work out their total taxable income. An individual’s taxable income is determined by adding up all sources of their income, deducting any allowable payments and reducing this amount by any available personal allowance.

Dividends are kept separate in the income tax computation because they are charged at different rates of tax to non-savings income, like employment income, and interest.

An individual is also entitled to a dividend allowance of £2,000, more about this later.

The dividend allowance is currently £2,000 and applies to the first £2,000 of an individual’s taxable dividend income. Dividend income within this dividend allowance is all taxed at a special nil rate of 0%.

After the above deductions, you must pay tax on any further dividends. The amount of tax you pay on dividends is based on your tax band for your other income.

Dividend tax rates are lower than those for other types of income, which is why many limited company directors extract profit via a dividend.

The rates have been the same since 2016 but in 2022/23, they increase by 1.25 percentage points due to the Government’s new social care levy.

The dividend tax rates are as follows:

  2021/22 2022/23
Basic rate taxpayer 7.5% 8.75%
Higher rate taxpayer 32.5% 33.75%
Additional rate taxpayer 38.1% 39.35%

Dividend allowance

The dividend allowance applies a nil rate of tax on the first £2,000 of dividends. It was £5,000 when first introduced in 2016/17 before being cut to £2,000 in 2018/19. It has remained at the same level ever since. 

The dividend allowance is in addition to the personal tax-free allowance you have for your other income. The personal allowance for 2021/22 and 2022/23 is £12,570.

The history of the dividend allowance is as follows:

Tax year Dividend allowance
6th April 2022 - 6th April 2023 £2,000
6th April 2021 - 6th April 2022 £2,000
6th April 2020 - 6th April 2021 £2,000
6th April 2019 - 6th April 2020 £2,000
6th April 2018 - 6th April 2019 £2,000
6th April 2017 - 6th April 2018 £5,000
6th April 2016 - 6th April 2017 £5,000

Income tax bands for 2022/23

A salary taken by a limited company director is taxed according to non saving income tax rates.

For the tax year ending 5th April 2023, most taxpayers benefit from a personal allowance of £12,570. This allowance is taken from your income and the balance of your non savings income is then subject to tax at the following rates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland:

Band Taxable Income Tax Rate
Basic rate taxpayer £12,570 to £50,270 20%
Higher rate taxpayer £50,271 to £150,000 40%
Additional rate taxpayer Over £150,000 45%

In Scotland, the rates for non-savings income differ as follows:

 Income Tax Rates and Bands for 2022-23

Band  Income Threshold Tax Rate
Starter rate Over £12,570 - £14,732 19%
Basic rate Over £14,732 - £25,688 20%
Intermediate Rate Over £25,688 - £43,662 21%
Higher Rate Over £43,662 - £150,000* 41%
Top Rate Over £150,000* 46%

*The above assumes the individual is in receipt of the Standard UK Personal Allowance. Those earning more than £100,000 will see their Personal Allowance reduced by £1 for every £2 earned over £100,000.

Different rates and allowances apply to non-savings income such as bank interest and dividend income.

How much tax will I pay on dividends in 2022-23?

To demonstrate the tax you may pay on dividends, we have included a couple of examples below.

Example 1

An individual received a dividend of £1,000 in 2022/23.

The dividend falls within the dividend nil rate (dividend allowance) and is not taxable. No tax will be due.

Example 2

An individual receives a dividend of £10,000 in 2022/23 and has other income of £10,500.

The individual has taxable income of £7,930 ((£10,500 + £10,000) − personal allowance of £12,570). £2,000 of the dividend falls within the dividend nil rate (dividend allowance) and is not taxable. The remaining £5,930 is taxable at the dividend ordinary rate (8.75%). The tax on the dividend is £519.

 

For a business owner who is concerned to minimise their liability to income tax and national insurance, planning dividend extraction should be considered with their accountant to maximise tax efficiencies.

Dividend tax calculator

To calculate the tax you must pay on your dividends, you need to keep in mind:

  • the tax band you are in
  • income tax personal allowance of £12,570
  • dividends tax-free allowance of £2,000

How to pay your dividend tax

If your dividends are within the £2,000 tax-free allowance, you do not need to tell HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

If you earn between £2,000 and £10,000 in dividends, call HMRC on 0300 200 3300 and ask for a change to your PAYE tax code so that you pay the correct amount of tax. If you prefer, you can declare your dividends using a Self-Assessment tax return.

If you earn over £10,000 in dividends, you must file a Self-Assessment tax return. If not already registered for Self-Assessment, you must do so by 5th October after the tax year in which the dividend payments were received.

What other taxes do I pay on shares?

If you sell shares, you might need to pay capital gains tax (CGT) on any profits that you make.

For gains below the CGT allowance, you do not need to pay tax. In 2021/22 and 2022/23, the tax-free allowance is £12,300.

Any gains you make above the allowance are taxed at 10% if the gains fall into the basic rate tax band and 20% if they fall into the higher rate tax band. These CGT rates do not apply to residential property, which are taxed at higher rates.

You may also have stamp taxes to pay on any purchase of shares.

Need advice on dividends tax?

TaxAssist Accountants can provide advice on dividends and tax planning. To find out more about our services and to book a free consultation, call 01277 221900 or fill in our online enquiry form.

Date published 25 Mar 2022 | Last updated 25 Mar 2022

This article is intended to inform rather than advise and is based on legislation and practice at the time. Taxpayer’s circumstances do vary and if you feel that the information provided is beneficial it is important that you contact us before implementation. If you take, or do not take action as a result of reading this article, before receiving our written endorsement, we will accept no responsibility for any financial loss incurred.

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