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The UK’s Corporate Tax: A Brief Introduction

Corporation Tax

Whether you are a business owner, an accounting professional, or just someone interested in the nuances of UK taxation laws, this blog post is for you. In this article, we will briefly introduce Corporate Tax: what it is, its history, current rates and bands, how it’s calculated, and who pays it. If you’re seeking information on corporate accounting training or expert advice from tax accountants on UK taxation laws and relief options available for your business, read on! We’ll also discuss how small businesses can navigate these complex regulations. So let’s dive into the world of corporation tax: A Brief Introduction by Star Sterling Academy.

What is corporation tax?

Corporation tax is a direct tax levied on the profits of UK-resident companies. It is one of the three central taxes the UK government imposes (income tax and capital gains tax). And foreign companies that carry out business in the country. The corporation tax paid is based on a company’s taxable profits, calculated by deducting allowable expenses from its total revenues.

The current rate for corporation tax stands at 19%, though there are certain exemptions and reliefs available that can reduce this figure. Companies must submit their assessment of their annual profits along with relevant documentation such as accounts and returns.

Failure to comply with corporation tax regulations can result in penalties being imposed. However, it’s important to note that not all businesses must pay this tax. For example, non-profit organisations may be exempt from paying corporation tax altogether.

History of Corporation Tax in the UK

The history of corporation tax in the UK dates back to 1965, when it was first introduced at a flat rate of 40% on all company profits. Before this, businesses were subject to income tax under the Income Tax Act 1952.

In the following years, several changes were made to the structure and rates of corporation tax in response to economic and political pressures. In 1973, a lower rate for small companies was introduced, and in 1984, a new system based on profits before taxation was implemented.

Further reforms followed with the introduction of capital allowances and transfer pricing regulations. The most significant change came in 1999, when Chancellor Gordon Brown announced a reduction in corporation tax from 33% to 30%.

Since then, successive governments have continued this trend with further reductions, increasing the current rate to just 19%.

Despite these changes, however, the corporate tax remains an essential source of revenue for HMRC and plays a crucial role in maintaining public services across the country.

Current Rates and Bands

The government determines the current rates and bands for corporation tax in the UK. The introductory rate is set at 19% for all profits unless certain conditions apply, such as if a company has earnings of less than £50,000 or is a non-residential landlord.

For companies with profits of £1.5 million or more per year, there is an additional surcharge of 3%. This means their effective tax rate will be higher, at 22%.

There are also different rates and bands for companies with ring-fenced profits from oil extraction activities or those involved in marginal fields. These companies may pay different levels of tax depending on their specific circumstances.

It’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest changes to corporation tax rates and bands to ensure compliance with UK taxation laws. Tax accountants can provide valuable guidance and help businesses take advantage of tax relief options.

How is corporation tax calculated?

Calculating corporation tax can be complex, but businesses must understand how it works to ensure they pay the correct amount. Determining the company’s taxable profits is the first step in calculating corporation tax. This includes all income the business receives throughout the financial year minus allowable expenses.

Once taxable profits have been determined, various reliefs and allowances can be applied to reduce the overall tax liability. These include capital allowances for eligible assets such as equipment or machinery used in business operations.

After applying all applicable reliefs and allowances, the remaining figure is known as chargeable profits. This is then multiplied by the current corporation tax rate (currently 19%) to arrive at the final tax liability.

Companies must keep accurate records of their finances throughout each financial year to calculate their corporation tax liability when it comes due. Seeking professional advice from qualified tax accountants or taking a corporate tax course can help businesses navigate this complex area of UK taxation confidently and efficiently.

Who pays corporation tax?

Regarding corporation tax, the question of who pays it can be tricky. All limited companies in the UK must pay corporation tax on their profits. This includes both resident and non-resident companies that operate within the country.

The tax is calculated based on a company’s taxable profits, which consider any deductions or allowances that may apply. It is important to note that even if your business doesn’t profit, you may still need to file a tax return and pay corporation tax on any income earned.

It is also worth noting that partnerships do not pay corporation tax as an entity; each partner will be responsible for paying tax on their share of partnership profits. Sole traders are exempt from this tax, as they are taxed under income tax rather than corporate tax.

Understanding who must pay corporation tax can be complex, depending on your situation. Seeking advice from qualified tax accountants or enrolling in a corporate tax course like those offered by Star Sterling Academy could help you better navigate these regulations and ensure compliance with UK taxation laws.

Small Businesses and Corporation Tax

Small businesses are a crucial part of the UK economy, and the government recognises this by offering various tax reliefs to help them grow and prosper. However, small businesses are still subject to corporation tax like any other company.

The current rate for corporation tax in the UK is 19%, which can vary depending on your business’s profits. Small companies with profits under £50,000 can benefit from a lower rate of 10%.

Small business owners must understand how corporation tax works and how it affects their bottom line. They need to keep accurate records of all their income and expenses to calculate their taxable profit correctly.

Small businesses can reduce their corporation tax bill by claiming eligible expenses such as office rent, employee salaries, or marketing costs. It’s also worth exploring if you’re eligible for specific relief schemes exclusively for SMEs.

Understanding your obligations regarding corporation tax will ensure that you don’t incur penalties or fines due to non-compliance while enjoying the benefits of operating legally in the UK market as a thriving SME.


Corporation tax is essential to the UK taxation system. It affects businesses of all sizes and generates significant revenue for the government. Understanding how corporation tax works can help you navigate your business finances effectively and minimise liability.

It’s always a good idea to consult with qualified tax accountants who can offer expert advice on managing your Corporate Taxes. With their help, you can ensure you comply with all relevant regulations while maximising any available tax relief opportunities.

If you're interested in learning more about Corporate Tax, many courses can provide a solid foundation for beginners or advanced professionals.

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