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Employing your spouse or civil partner

At Greenaway we can advise businesses in the Kent area on the possible tax advantages of employing your spouse or civil partner in the firm. Here is an overview of the issues.

When considering the overall tax position of your family, it is worth considering employing your spouse or civil partner in your business.

It is likely to show a tax saving if your spouse or civil partner has unused personal allowances or pays tax at a lower rate than you do.

The following points must be borne in mind:

  • the level of salary must be commercially justifiable
  • the salary must actually be paid to your spouse or civil partner (and therefore affordable for your business)
  • the National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage regulations are likely to apply

As well as a salary, you may be able to pay contributions to a pension arrangement for your spouse or civil partner. These should not be taxable on your spouse or civil partner and should save you tax as a business expense.

All the above considerations apply equally to an unmarried partner or indeed to any other individual.

Administering a salary

If your spouse or civil partner has no other employment, a Starter Checklist (available from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/paye-starter-checklist) should be prepared with the Statement A (“This is my first job since last 6 April …”) ticked. You may then pay up to the Lower Earnings Limit for employees' national insurance (£120 per week for 2020/21) without any further formality.

If you already have a PAYE scheme for other employees, or don’t mind setting up a scheme for your spouse or civil partner, you should consider the following points:

  • a salary between £120 and £169 per week will protect an entitlement to basic state pension and other contributory benefits without incurring an actual national insurance liability
  • a salary between £169 and £962 per week is subject to employee’s national insurance at 12% and employer’s national insurance at 13.8%
  • the income tax position depends on your spouse or civil partner’s personal circumstances
  • the amount of salary exceeding £962 a week is subject to employee’s national insurance at 2% and employer’s national insurance at 13.8%, without upper limit
  • employee’s (but not employer’s) national insurance contributions stop when the employee reaches State Pension age.

Please give us a call if there are any points you would like to discuss.

If you are in the Kent area and are considering employing your spouse or civil partner in your business, Greenaway can advise you of the tax advantages and other implications.

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Details about our audit registration can be viewed at www.auditregister.org.uk for the UK and www.cro.ie/auditors for Ireland, under reference number C006856925

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Greenaway Chartered Accountants, 150 High Street, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 1XE

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