Running your business

Your choice of business structure will create an on-going administrative burden which is linked to how the business trades, how it can be sold, its tax status and whether your business can be eligible for grants and loans. Here are the on-going responsibilities for the four main business structures.

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A sole trader

You must send a self-assessment tax return every year and pay income tax on the profits you make. You’ll also need to pay National Insurance and register for VAT if you expect your turnover to be above the current threshold.

In partnership with others

The nominated partner must send a partnership self-assessment tax return every year and all partners must send a self-assessment tax return every year. Furthermore, all partners must pay income tax on the profits made and pay National Insurance. If you expect your turnover to be above the current VAT threshold, the partnership must register for VAT.

A private limited company

The company has on-going reporting and filing responsibilities in each financial year. For more information, read Filing your annual return, Preparing your annual accounts and tax return and Other filings at Companies House. The company must register for VAT if it expects turnover to be more than the current threshold. Furthermore, directors must send in a self-assessment tax return each year and pay tax and National Insurance through the PAYE system if the company pays them a salary.

A limited liability partnership (LLP)

The LLP must send a partnership self-assessment form to HMRC each year. All partners must send a self-assessment tax return every year, pay income tax on the profits made and pay National Insurance. The LLP must register for VAT if it expects turnover to exceed the current threshold.

Deciding on a business structure

You’ll need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the various possible structures. Consider whether you want your finances to be separate from the business. Are you willing to spend the extra time it will take to set up a company or LLP and deal with its administration? Do you mind financial information about your business becoming public if you need to file it at Companies House? What about the image of your business; will it seem more professional or established if it’s registered and regulated by Companies House? 

Consider tax aspects

Don’t forget that selecting a certain business structure will have different tax implications. Your decision will affect the tax you and your business pay and impact on potential tax reliefs and grants. You may find it advantageous - and cost-effective in the long run - to obtain advice from an accountant or professional tax advisor.

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