Take Home Pay: Umbrella vs. Limited Company

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Choosing whether to set up a limited company or use an umbrella can be a difficult decision for contractors. Since pay can often be a factor when it comes to making the choice, our guide is here to help show you your potential earnings.

There are two main savings with a limited company over an umbrella company: National Insurance and the Flat Rate VAT Scheme.

National Insurance Contributions

Being paid by an umbrella company means that you will pay National Insurance as both an employer and an employee.  Employer’s National Insurance is 13.8% of your salary, while employee’s National Insurance is 12% for the first £797 a week, and 1% thereafter (both after tax-free personal allowances). These contributions will be deducted from your wages by your umbrella company before being paid to you.

As the director of your limited company, the rate of National Insurance you are liable for will vary depending on earnings. As dividend income is not subject to National Insurance, it may be tax efficient to take a salary and the remainder as a dividend. You will be responsible for your National Insurance. However, your accountant can help you with this process.

Flat Rate VAT Scheme

The flat rate VAT scheme is an incentive provided by the government to help simplify taxes and is eligible to contractors who earn less than £150,000 in a financial year. This means that contractors can charge 20% VAT on invoices but only pay back HMRC in your first year 13.5% of the gross amount and 14.5% in subsequent years. As the rules changed in 2017, our guide can help to explain what these changes could mean for you.

You can also visit our Flat Rate VAT Scheme Guide page for a full list of the standard rates depending on your profession.

Support from SJD

For more information about contracting through your own limited company, you can download one of our guides. Alternatively, you speak to our new business team on

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