paying wife through limited company

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Introductionpaying wife through limited company 

When you’re UK contracting or in business day to day, you may wonder can I pay my spouse a salary as a contractor. While you work through your limited company and pay yourself a contractor salary, you may consider can I hire my spouse as an employee? What’s more, you may also ask can I employ my wife to reduce tax? When you are paying your spouse a salary how much tax might this save for your company? Also, is there anything else to consider around paying spouse a salary and taking them on as an employee of your business. Therefore, if paying wife through limited company is possible, what’ll the tax saving be for the business? As a limited company contractor or small business owner, the thoughts around whether can I employ my spouse and can I pay my partner a wage in 2023/24 could arise when either:

In this guide, we’ll look at what to consider in respect of a contractor paying spouse a wage. What’s more, we’ll research the tax implications around paying spouse as employee. As a side note, it’s also important to bear in mind that you shouldn’t be looking at paying your wife a salary to avoid tax. In other words, if you’re planning on hiring wife as employee, they must be actually working for your company and carrying out certain duties on a regular basis. Therefore, if you’re to pay your partner a salary (limited company), what else should you consider in terms of wife pay through your business?

Initial thoughts 

First thoughts on can I pay my spouse a salary

Besides your own business owner salary (UK) and considering how to be tax-efficient, a common thought is can I employ my wife. Another common thought is, if so, how much can I pay my wife to work for me? Basically, the question regarding can you employ your spouse will pop up quite often from limited company contractors. When it comes to can I pay salary to my wife, the good news is you can employ your partner. However, when you consider paying your spouse a salary, you’ll need to look at your business overall to see if this is something you’d like to do.

If you’re to consider paying partner a salary, this may be an option if they’d like to work for your business. However, this may also have other tax implications depending on your partner’s other taxable income. Therefore, in this guide let’s look at how to pay spouse as employee and consider what we should think about here.

Common questions 

In this guide for UK contractors, we’ll research can I remunerate my partner as an employee. Indeed, some common questions and thoughts from contractors and small business owners will include:

  • Can an independent contractor have employees?
  • How to employ someone in a limited company.
  • How to employ someone in a small business (UK).
  • Can I hire my wife as an employee?
  • Can I pay my wife to do my books?
  • Can I pay my wife a salary from my company (UK)?
  • How much can I pay my wife tax-free?
  • Can I pay my wife to reduce tax?
  • Is a limited company salary to my wife taxable?
  • Can I hire my spouse as a contractor?
  • What to consider when hiring spouse as independent contractor.

Therefore, in this guide, we’ll consider can you pay your wife a salary. What’s more, we’ll look at what to think about when you’re putting wife on payroll of your business. Also, we’ll  look into employing a family member and paying family members in a small business (UK).

Other initial thoughts around employing spouse (limited company) and wife salary 

Can I pay my spouse as a contractor or small business owner

Many UK contractors and limited company owners will consider can I employ my wife. Therefore, when you’re contracting you may ask can I hire my spouse as an independent contractor? Basically, when you run your own business as a limited company contractor, you’ll probably be an employee in your business. Consequently, you may take a director’s salary as a contractor and the main income generator. When we consider can I hire my wife as an independent contractor and can I pay my spouse a salary, your company can pay a contractor spouse salary if they’re going to some work for your contracting company. Therefore, if they’re going to help your business in terms of working for it, the next thing to consider is how do you proceed with paying wife through limited company.

Paying salary to family members

Besides considerations around paying spouse a salary, what about putting family members on payroll? A family business will often employ members of the family of the person or persons who started the company. As a result, they’ll be paying a salary to family members.

Therefore, when you’re a business owner, including a UK contractor, a limited company employing family members is quite common. As a result, it may be worthwhile considering paying spouse to reduce tax (UK) in return for some work for your company.

It may also be the case that you consider hiring family members as contractors. If they’ve the skills necessary, this is also an option. However, in UK contracting it could be better for them to have their own company in some scenarios.

Check with your accountant about hiring a spouse as an employee 

You may decide to ask your accountant can I pay my spouse a salary. As an alternative, you may ask if you can pay another family member a salary from your company. Before you think about employing and paying your spouse a salary, you need to consider are they going to do some work for your business. If they are, you can add them to the payroll and go ahead and pay wife as employee for the hours worked on behalf of your company. As a result of hiring your spouse as an employee, the spouse salary costs are an expense, which’ll help reduce your company tax bill.

Depending on what your partner earns, it may also be an idea to consider using the transfer of the Marriage Allowance. However, this isn’t suitable for everyone. Therefore, you could check the position to see if you can claim this.

What to consider in respect of can I pay my wife a salary from my company 

Paying spouse a salary -are they a higher-rate taxpayer? 

When you consider should I pay my wife a salary, there’s no real benefit in paying your partner a salary if they’re already earning above the higher rate tax level (£50,270). Consequently, if your company did employ your wife, it’ll save Corporation Tax on the salary cost. However, your spouse would incur PAYE tax on their salary at 40%. Therefore, in this case, it wouldn’t be beneficial to pay them a salary.

Paying wife through limited company -are they using up their tax allowance? 

Another consideration when we think about whether can I pay my partner a wage is there’s also no real benefit in paying your wife through your limited company if they already earn enough to use up their personal tax allowance. Basically, this is set at £12,570 in 2023/24.

As a result, if your company did this, it’ll save Corporation Tax (CT) 19% or 25% on the salary cost. However, your spouse would incur PAYE tax on their salary at 20%.

Paying my spouse a salary -is their income less than £12,570 per annum? 

In contrast, when we consider whether can I pay my spouse a salary, if your partner has no other salary or earns less than £12,570 per annum, you could pay them a limited company salary. As a result, your company would make some tax savings. In other words, your company would save CT at 19% or 25% on the salary cost. What’s more, your spouse would receive the monthly net salary and used up some or all of their personal tax allowance.

Considerations around employing and paying spouse a salary 

Working and performing tasks for your company 

Most importantly, when you look at when can my wife be my employee, your partner should do some actual work for your company to justify their level of pay. For example, when you employ your wife, such tasks when you pay spouse as an independent contractor could be administration-type tasks, and these may include:

  • Answering the phone.
  • Opening company mail.
  • Dealing with company e-mails.
  • Updating the company’s accounting system.
  • Creating company invoices.

Key to note, if you’re paying your wife or partner a wage and they’re not doing any work, HMRC may challenge their salary in the future.

Paying wife through limited company -the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW)

When we consider how much can I pay my wife to work for me, you’ll need to pay at least the NLW or NMW if:

  • If your spouse isn’t a director; and
  • They don’t have a contract of employment.

The NLW and NMW rates change on 1 April every year and are:

23 and over 21 to 22 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice
Apr-23 £10.42 £10.18 £7.49 £5.28 £5.28

Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either:

  • Aged under 19
  • Aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship 

How much can I pay my wife to work for me? 

Putting spouse on payroll -justifying a salary for them

If you decide on paying wife through limited company is something you’d like to do, how much can you justify as a salary for them?

As a company owner, when you claim business expenses, they should be `wholly and exclusively’ for the purpose of the business. Indeed, this rule is one of HMRC’s essential guidelines and BIM37735 goes into detail in this respect.

In a similar vein, when you’re paying spouse a salary, you’ll need to think about what’s the value of the work that they carry out for your business. Therefore, when you’re paying your spouse a salary, this should be at a `commercial rate’ for the work they do for your company. To sum up, we mean here that you should consider what you’d pay someone else for doing the same job as your spouse.

Paying wife through limited company -the tax bands and NI rates

In 2023/24, the tax-free personal allowance is £12,570.

National Insurance applies in 2023/24 as follows:

  • Employers are required to start deducting NICs on earnings above the lower earnings limit (LEL). In 2023/24, this is set at £533 per month or £6,396 per annum. At this level, benefits will accrue for the employee’s state pension.
  • The primary threshold (PT) for employee contributions is set at £1,048 per month or £12,576 per annum.
  • The upper earnings limit is set at £4,189 per month or £50,270 per year.
  • The secondary threshold (applicable to employers) is set at £758 per month or £9,100 per year. There’s no upper earnings limit for employer NIC liabilities.

The rates for National Insurance in 2023/24 are:

  • 12% employees’ NI for income between the primary threshold and the upper earnings limit.
  • 2% employees’ NI for income over the upper earnings limit.
  • 13.8% employer’s NI for income over the lower earnings limit for NIC Classes 1, 1A, and 1B.

The above NI rates were all increased by 1.25% during 2022/23. However, the government later reverted on these increases. As a result, the NI rates in 2022/23 were a mixture of the two rates i.e., the employer’s NI mixed rate was 14.53%.

A salary above the current personal allowance of £12,570 will also incur income tax at 20%. Furthermore, please view this page for the rates and PAYE tax and NI thresholds for employers 2023 to 2024.

Suggestion -hiring spouse as independent contractor 

When you consider paying your spouse a salary, due to the recent increase in National Insurance rates and the National Insurance bands, an optimal salary when you pay your wife as an employee could be £1,047.50. Indeed, this is because your company will make more Corporation Tax savings even though there is an employer’s NI cost payable above £758 per month. This salary level is optimal if your spouse has no other sources of income. Such other income would include rental profits, self-employment profits, pension income, etc. Basically, other income may use up your spouse’s personal allowance. Therefore, if they’ve other income, £758 or £533 may be the optimal salary instead.

Also, to ensure your spouse’s NI contributions count as a `qualifying year’ in respect of NI credits for state pension purposes, you need to pay them a wage of £533 or more for the full twelve months of the tax year. As already mentioned, your spouse needs to work for your business to pay the above-suggested salary. In addition, they also need to be putting in enough hours to justify their monthly salary.

Other considerations in respect of wife’s wages (HMRC) 

PAYE scheme

As a company, to be able to pay a wage to you and perhaps your spouse, it’ll need to be running a PAYE scheme. After applying for this, HMRC will set it up, and contractor accountant will usually administer this for you. You can find out more about this on the HMRC website. The PAYE/NIC on any salaries will be part of your contractor limited company taxes.

Sole trader employing spouse (UK)

Many business owners will ask `I am self-employed, can I pay my wife a wage.’ If you’re a sole trader, you can’t pay yourself a salary as your business will pay tax on your self-employment profits. However, you could set up a PAYE scheme, and once in place, you can consider hiring my spouse. Once they are hired, you can organise paying a spouse when self-employed. The resulting salary you’ll pay will be for any work they do for your business. 

Paying wife through limited company and operating the payroll

When hiring a spouse or other employees and operating the payroll, your business needs to be able to provide:

  • Payslips to its employees for each pay period.
  • Make any relevant PAYE/NIC payments to HMRC every three months.

Nowadays, with the introduction of the internet, most business will run their payroll through specialist accounting software. What’s more, this software will usually come with a licence fee. In most cases, a business’ accountants will deal with payroll processing.

Can husband pay salary to wife -saving company tax 

When we look at can a husband employ his wife or vice versa, any salaries that the contractor or business owner pays will be regarded as a company expense. Therefore, it’s a good idea to consider employing spouse to reduce tax for your business. As a result, when we consider whether can I employ my wife to reduce tax for my company, the salary that you pay to your wife will save Corporation Tax at the current rate of 19% or 25%.

Final thoughts on paying wife a salary 

When we consider can I employ my wife and can you pay your spouse a salary, many contractors will go ahead with adding their partner to the company payroll. As a result, when paying wife through limited company, your partner will complete specific company duties, usually administration-type tasks. In return, they will receive a wage for the hours worked, and this’ll save company tax for your business.

Link to Contractor Advice UK group on


Published On: January 4th, 2024 / Categories: Contractor Tips, Payroll /

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