Setting up a business in the UK

James Shipp, Partner for Lovewell Blake

For existing non-UK businesses looking to set up a subsidiary or branch in the UK there are a number of key considerations to be understood in advance. At Lovewell Blake we have broad experience of assisting overseas entrepreneurs and corporate groups with the initial set-up and ongoing administration. Here are the main aspects to be considered.

James Shipp, Partner for Lovewell Blake

Company or Branch?

Typically a UK company is the chosen structure when setting up a business in the UK. The separate limited company allows risk to be ringfenced and registration for UK taxes and bank accounts is simpler with a UK company number and registered office address. UK tax is likely to be payable on UK operations if the UK business is truly managed and directed from the UK. Our tax experts can set out the key differences between a company and a branch. If the subsidiary route is chosen, we can advise on the initial shareholding structure, incorporate the UK company on your behalf, host the registered office address and deal with ongoing local administration.

Bookkeeping and payroll administration

Once your business is established, you will be required to maintain accounting records and potentially file quarterly VAT returns electronically with HMRC. We work with our clients to establish a suitable bookkeeping system and will generally maintain and oversee the day-to-day accounting functionality. A Cloud Accounting system can typically work well so that access is available to Directors from any location. Our services can range from complete outsourcing of the entire accounting function to the provision of training and set-up services to your staff. Where staff are to be employed in your UK business, our payroll team can set up and maintain the UK payroll or indeed an overseas payroll if required. Our HR department can also prepare employment contracts and help deal with disputes.

Annual Compliance

UK companies are required to prepare and file annual accounts and a corporation tax return. UK corporation tax is payable annually. Larger companies, or those who are a member of a larger group, may also require a statutory audit. Our accounting, tax and audit teams can undertake all the required compliance work and report to the Directors in an efficient and timely manner. Where your business is undertaking Research and Development activities, our expert R&D team can also prepare your annual R&D claim for submission to HMRC and deal with any queries or enquires. Where the cost of a tax enquiry is a concern, we also offer a very competitive Tax Investigation Service which covers our costs for dealing with HMRC enquires.

Tax Advisory Services

Whether the shareholders are UK resident, overseas nationals or corporate entities, our tax advisory team will work with you to design a profit extraction strategy which suits your needs. Where businesses offer benefits to staff such as company cars it is also important to consult a tax specialist so that tax reliefs and incentives are maximised. Capital Investment attracts tax incentives in the UK and planning your expansion strategy is important. Where UK tax rules change or are capped by thresholds or allowances it is important to ensure you are maximising the opportunities for tax relief each year. We pride ourselves in providing a complete and joined up service so that tax advice can be seamlessly implemented into your accounting policies and practices.

International support

Your UK business may not be exclusively trading and hiring staff in the UK. There are complex areas to be aware of when international aspects are relevant. Since Brexit, the laws and rules around importing, exporting and VAT have changed and can be challenging. Our VAT experts can guide you through best practice and help you avoid common pitfalls. Bringing overseas staff to the UK or sending UK based staff to work overseas also requires consultation and our tax experts can help. From a compliance focus, where you have group auditors or a central accounting function, our teams are experienced in providing required information and documentation in line with the most challenging timescales.

To discuss your specific requirements in detail please get in touch and we can set up an online meeting with our experts.

Wide-ranging tax planning and compliance services for individuals seeking advice and guidance from our team of experienced and highly qualified professionals.

Friendly and coherent advice and guidance on accounting and tax matters for small business owners including those starting out for the first time.

Established businesses requiring accounting and tax compliance services, forward thinking tax planning advice and the support to help your business succeed.

Our full range of enhanced corporate services aimed at large companies and those requiring audit, assurance, corporate tax advisory and diverse tax planning services.

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