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The Alternatives to Operating Through a Limited Company

What Alternative Structures are Available to Contractors?

In the realm of contracting, the choice of business structure significantly impacts an individual’s tax considerations. While we’ve previously highlighted the advantages of operating as a limited company, it’s crucial to explore the other alternative options available, each carrying unique tax implications. In this follow-up blog, we’ll delve into alternatives to working through a limited company, aiding contractors in making well-informed decisions aligned with their tax goals and business circumstances.

Sole Trader

Operating as a sole trader, while lacking the limited liability protection, holds distinct tax considerations. With straightforward registration, minimal administrative requirements, and complete control over your business, it’s an attractive option for individuals seeking simplicity and autonomy. Sole traders are subject to income tax on profits, making it essential to manage personal and business finances effectively.


If you’re collaborating with others, a partnership might be a suitable choice. Partnerships can be general or limited, allowing for shared responsibilities, resources, and risks. Tax implications in partnerships revolve around the allocation of profits and losses, requiring a clear partnership agreement to navigate tax complexities and prevent misunderstandings.


Freelancers, operating as independent professionals, enjoy flexibility and control over projects and rates. Tax considerations for freelancers involve managing self-assessment, expenses, and potentially navigating the complexities of Value Added Tax (VAT) registration. While freelancing offers autonomy, contractors need to be vigilant about tax compliance and reporting.

Umbrella Companies

Choosing to operate through an umbrella company streamlines administrative tasks by making you an employee of the umbrella. Tax considerations shift as the umbrella handles payroll, taxes, and compliance matters. While this may give up some level of autonomy, the convenience and ease of entry can outweigh the tax complexities associated with limited companies.


Collaborative ventures take the form of cooperatives, this structure sees individuals pooling their resources and expertise. Tax considerations in cooperatives involve shared decision-making and shared profits, with members individually responsible for their tax obligations. This model blends autonomy with collective responsibility.

Non-Profit Organisations

If your work is driven by a cause or community impact, you might consider forming a non-profit organisation. While involving substantial administrative and legal work, the tax benefits can be significant. Non-profits operate with a focus on social impact rather than profits, potentially qualifying for tax-exempt status.


Joining a franchise allows you to operate under an established brand with support and guidance from the franchisor. While you benefit from a proven business model, it also means adhering to the franchisor’s rules and sharing a portion of your profits. Understanding the tax implications, including royalties and fees, is crucial for franchise operators.

Self-Employed Worker Status

Some platforms and marketplaces classify workers as self-employed, allowing you to offer services without forming a legal entity. While this offers simplicity, it also means limited control over rates and conditions. Contractors must navigate tax implications specific to their classification on these platforms.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

An LLP combines limited liability protection with tax considerations unique to partnerships. Often favoured by professional service providers, an LLP introduces complexity in administrative and legal requirements compared to simpler structures.

Social Enterprise

For those seeking to blend business and social impact, a social enterprise might be appealing. This model allows you to generate profits while addressing social or environmental challenges. Balancing profit generation with social or environmental goals, social enterprises may qualify for tax incentives, but navigating the complex landscape is crucial.

Finding the Right Model for Your Business

While a limited company provides distinctive tax advantages, exploring the alternatives is imperative for tax-conscious contractors. Each option, from sole trader to social enterprise, comes with its tax considerations. These range from income tax and self-assessment to VAT obligations and potential tax incentives. By understanding the diverse tax landscapes of alternative structures, contractors can make informed choices aligning with their financial goals and ensuring tax efficiency in their contracting journey.

Tax Advice Tailored to You

At WTT, we specialise in helping contractors with tax. Our team is comprised of experts in tax, legal and accounting, offering a broad range of services to individuals, corporates and trusts. From assisting with accounting processes and offering support on the life cycle of a business, to compliance advice and future planning, whatever your needs we’re here to help.

Contact us today at info@wttconsulting.co.uk or call us on +44 (0)20 3468 0000.

‘A Day in the Life of a Contractor’

A Day In The Life Of A Contractor’ helps to shed light on the key tax considerations when starting up in business, all the way to shutting up shop and unwinding your limited company.

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