Our website uses cookies to enhance the visitor experience (what's a cookieCookies are small text files that are stored on your computer when you visit a website. They are mainly used as a way of improving the website functionalities or to provide more advanced statistical data.). Are you happy for us to use cookies during your visits?
Please note: continuing without making a choice equates to giving us your consent, which you can withdraw at any time via our cookies policy page.

Consider a partnership

Newsletter issue - January 2018.

Whilst forming a partnership can be an extremely flexible way for two or more people to own and run a business together, it is important to appreciate that under this type of trading vehicle, the partners themselves do not have individual protection. If one of the partners resigns, dies, or goes bankrupt, the partnership has to be dissolved, even though the business itself may not need to cease. Although there is no legal requirement to do so, it is highly recommended that, on forming a partnership, a formal partnership deed is drawn up. Many partnerships ask a solicitor to help with this, but it is possible for the partners to drawn one up themselves.

Broadly, the partnership agreement sets out what each partner is responsible for and what he or she can expect from the business. Each partner of the firm will be self-employed, taking a share of the profit and paying income tax and NICs personally on that share. However, each partner will also be personally responsible for any (and potentially all) debts that the partnership incurs.

It may be worthwhile considering forming a partnership with a sleeping partner, who usually receives a smaller annual share of the partnership's profits. In simple terms, a sleeping partner normally contributes money to the business but doesn't get actively involved with running it.

HMRC obligations

The partnership needs to appoint one of its officers (the nominated officer) to fill in the partnership tax return each year and send it to HMRC. This return includes a Partnership Statement, which shows how profits or losses have been divided amongst the partners. The nominated partner also has to give each partner a copy of the Partnership Statement to help them complete their own personal tax return correctly.

Partners are individually responsible for submitting their own self-assessment tax returns. However, the partnership must register with HMRC by 5 October in the business's second tax year, or a penalty may be incurred.

With regard to VAT, where a sole trader takes in one or more partners there is a change in business entity for VAT purposes. If the sole trader is VAT registered, the change must be notified to HMRC within 30 days and his/her VAT registration will be cancelled. Alternatively, an application may be made (on form VAT 68) for the VAT registration to be transferred to the partnership. The partnership itself must register if the VAT taxable turnover is more than the VAT registration threshold (currently £85,000).

Limited liability partnerships

In some circumstances it may be worth considering the formation of a limited liability partnership (LLP). This type of trading vehicle is similar to an ordinary partnership in that a number of people or limited companies join together and share the costs, risks, and responsibilities of the business. They also take a share of the profits, and pay income tax and NICs on their share of the partnership profits. However, under an LLP, debt will be limited to the amount of money each partner invested in the business and to any personal guarantees given to raise business finance. This, in turn, affords members some protection if the business runs into difficulties because their liability will be restricted in general terms to the level of their investment.

  • Auto enrolment icon

    Auto Enrolment

    Workplace pensions rules are changing.
    Be prepared for auto enrolment, see how we
    can help and read up on our guidance notes.

    More

  • Cloud accounting icon

    Cloud Accounting

    With our online bookkeeping packages, our support
    services are only a click away.
    Discover cloud accountancy solutions to bring your finances up to date.
    More

  • Pay less tax icon

    Pay Less Tax

    Our experienced tax advisors can help you
    make the most of your options to reduce
    your tax bills.

    More

  • Make more profit icon

    Make More Profit

    From business plans to management accounts,
    our business services will ensure you are in
    control of your business finances.

    More

  • Source finance icon

    Source Finance

    Our experienced partners can guide you
    in getting the finance you need to make
    your business grow. Read our guides or
    contact us for a free consultation.
    More

  • Outsource your payroll icon

    Outsource Your Payroll

    Let us handle payroll compliance for your
    business. We can deal with HMRC on your
    behalf, and take the stress out of RTI.

    More