Director Dividends – The Implications of Paying Yourself too Much

Company director worried they have paid themselves too much director dividends

Director dividends play a significant role in the financial management of small limited companies. However, it is essential for company directors to understand the implications of paying themselves excessive dividends.

In this article, we will explore the legal, financial, and tax-related risks associated with overpaid dividends. We will also provide guidance on how to strike the right balance between personal rewards and the financial needs of the business.

What are Director’s Dividends?

Director’s dividends refer to the payments made by a limited company to its directors out of the company’s profits. It is important to distinguish director dividends from salaries, as dividends are separate from regular remuneration and are subject to different regulations. Director dividends offer certain advantages, such as potential tax efficiencies and the ability to distribute profits to shareholders.

The Risks of Paying Yourself Excessive Dividends

A company director taking director dividends from an office table

Legal Considerations:

  1. Compliance with company law and articles of association: Company directors must ensure that the dividend payment complies with the requirements outlined in the company’s articles of association and are authorized by the board of directors.
  2. Avoiding illegal distributions: Paying dividends without sufficient profits or when the company is insolvent can be deemed as illegal dividends, which can result in severe penalties or personal liability for the directors.
  3. The risk of personal liability: Directors may be held personally liable if excessive dividends are paid, leading to financial difficulties for the company or its creditors.

Impact on Company Finances:

  1. Cash flow management challenges: Paying excessive dividends can strain the company’s cash flow, affecting its ability to meet financial obligations or invest in growth opportunities.
  2. Negative effects on company growth and investment: Diverting too many profits towards dividends may hinder the company’s ability to reinvest in the business, limiting its potential for growth.
  3. Potential damage to business reputation: Overpaid dividends can give the impression that the company prioritises personal gain over the long-term success and stability of the business, potentially harming its reputation with stakeholders.

Tax Implications:

  1. Personal tax consequences: Directors receiving dividends are require to pay income tax on those payments above the tax free dividend allowance which is £1,000 in the current 2023/24 tax year. The amount of tax you will pay is dependant on what income tax bracket your income falls into. The basic rate for the current tax year is 8.75% or 33.75% if you are a higher rate tax payer. Please click HERE for further information on the current applicable tax rates.
  2. Impact on the company’s corporation tax liabilities: Dividends paid reduce the company’s profits available for corporation tax purposes, potentially leading to a higher corporation tax bill.
  3. HM Revenue & Customs scrutiny: Paying dividends beyond the legal limits or in a manner that raises suspicion may trigger an investigation, resulting in penalties and potential reputational damage.

Balancing Director Dividends with Business Needs

Determining reasonable director dividends:

  1. Assessing profitability and available funds: Directors should consider the company’s profits and available funds to determine an appropriate level of dividends, ensuring it does not compromise the company’s financial stability.
  2. Considering the financial health of the company: Directors must evaluate the financial needs of the business, including future investments, working capital requirements, and debt servicing.
  3. Seeking professional advice: Consulting with accountants or tax advisors can provide valuable guidance on determining suitable dividend levels and complying with legal and tax obligations.

Exploring alternative methods of extracting value:

  1. Reinvesting profits for growth: Instead of taking excessive dividends, directors can choose to reinvest profits back into the business, fueling expansion and enhancing its long-term prospects.
  2. Utilising director loans: Directors can consider utilizing director loans, allowing them to access funds from the company while maintaining a clear distinction between personal and company finances.
  3. Pension contributions and other tax-efficient options: Directors may explore tax-efficient methods such as making pension contributions to reduce personal tax liabilities and optimize their overall financial position.

Best Practices for Director Dividends

Maintaining proper records and documentation:

  1. Ensuring accurate dividend declarations: Directors should document dividend declarations, specifying the amount and date of the dividend payment.
  2. Documenting board meetings and resolutions: Board meetings and resolutions pertaining to dividends should be accurately recorded to demonstrate compliance with company procedures.

Regularly reviewing and adjusting dividends:

Monitoring financial performance and cash flow: Directors should regularly review the company’s financial performance and cash flow to assess the feasibility of maintaining dividend payments.

Adapting to changing business circumstances: Dividend policies should be flexible enough to adapt to changing business circumstances, ensuring dividends align with the company’s financial needs.

Consulting with professionals:

Accountants, tax advisors, and legal experts:Seeking advice from professionals can help directors navigate complex tax laws, stay compliant, and optimize their dividend strategies.

Staying up-to-date with regulations and tax laws:Directors should stay informed about relevant regulations and tax laws to ensure their dividend practices remain lawful and tax-efficient.

Impact of excessive dividends on the Director’s Loan Account

When a company director pays themselves excessive dividends, there can be significant consequences, both in terms of the Director’s Loan Account (DLA) and the overall financial health of the company. Let’s delve into these consequences and understand how they can impact the director and the company.

Director’s Loan Account (DLA): The Director’s Loan Account is a record of transactions between a company and its director(s). It tracks the movement of money, including loans given to or taken from the director by the company. When a director pays themselves dividends in excess of the company’s available profits, it can result in an overdrawn DLA. This means that the director owes money to the company.

Consequences of an overdrawn DLA include:

a. Tax implications: An overdrawn DLA may be treated as a loan to the director and could have tax implications. In some jurisdictions, the company may be subject to tax charges on the overdrawn amount, and the director may face additional personal tax liabilities.

b. Repayment obligations: Directors with an overdrawn DLA are legally required to repay the amount owed to the company. If the director fails to repay the loan, it can lead to personal liability and potential legal action.

c. Impact on company accounts: An overdrawn DLA affects the financial statements of the company. It must be disclosed in the company’s annual accounts, which can impact its creditworthiness and reputation.

Impact of company insolvency when a director has been paid illegal dividends

Insolvency and Liquidation: Paying excessive dividends can also have serious implications for the solvency and potential liquidation of a company. Insolvency occurs when a company cannot pay its debts as they become due. Here’s how overpaying dividends can contribute to insolvency:

Cash flow problems: Paying excessive dividends can deplete the company’s available cash, leaving it with insufficient funds to meet its financial obligations, such as paying suppliers, employees, or servicing debt.

Breach of fiduciary duty: Directors have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders. Paying excessive dividends, especially if it results in insolvency, can be seen as a breach of this duty, potentially exposing directors to legal action.

Insolvency implications: If a company becomes insolvent, there are legal procedures that may follow, such as administration or liquidation. In such cases, the company’s assets may be sold to repay creditors, and directors may face investigations to determine if they acted wrongfully or contributed to the company’s insolvency.

Personal liability: In cases of wrongful trading or fraudulent conduct, directors may be held personally liable for the company’s debts incurred during the period of insolvency.

It is crucial for directors to exercise prudence and follow legal requirements when determining the amount of dividends they pay themselves. Seeking professional advice from accountants or legal experts can help ensure compliance and mitigate the potential consequences associated with excessive dividends, protecting both the director and the company’s financial stability.


While director dividends provide an opportunity for small limited directors to enjoy the fruits of their labour, it is crucial to strike the right balance between personal rewards and the financial needs of the business. Understanding the legal, financial, and tax implications of paying excessive dividends is essential for directors to protect the company’s financial stability and long-term success.

By following best practices, seeking professional advice, and staying informed about regulatory requirements, directors can navigate dividend payments in a responsible and sustainable manner, ensuring both personal and business interests are effectively managed.


The primary sources for this article are listed below.

Tax on dividends: How dividends are taxed – GOV.UK (

Details of our standards for producing accurate, unbiased content can be found in our editorial policy here.


Is it better for a director to pay themselves through dividends than salary?

The decision on how to pay oneself as a director depends on various factors. Paying oneself through dividends instead of a salary can have certain advantages, such as potential tax savings. Dividends are subject to different tax rates than salaries, and they do not attract National Insurance Contributions (NICs). However, the suitability of dividends as a payment method may vary based on individual circumstances. It is recommended to consult with a qualified accountant or tax professional to determine the most advantageous payment method for your specific situation.

How do I pay myself dividends from my limited company?

To pay yourself dividends from a limited company, you need to follow a few steps:

  1. Ensure your company has sufficient distributable profits: Dividends can only be paid out of profits available for distribution. Make sure your company’s financial statements indicate that there are retained earnings or current year profits available to cover the proposed dividend payment.
  2. Hold a meeting of the board of directors: As a director, you should convene a board meeting to declare the dividend. The meeting should document the decision to declare a dividend, specifying the amount to be paid and the payment date.
  3. Issue a dividend voucher: After the board meeting, prepare a dividend voucher for each shareholder. This document should include the company name, shareholder details, dividend amount, and payment date.
  4. Make the dividend payment: Transfer the dividend amount from the company’s bank account to the shareholders’ personal bank accounts, according to the dividend voucher.
  5. Record the transaction: Maintain proper records of the dividend payment in the company’s accounting records, including the dividend voucher, bank transfer details, and any necessary entries in the company’s financial statements.

Please note that the process outlined above is a general guide, and it is advisable to seek professional advice from an accountant or tax specialist to ensure compliance with legal and accounting requirements specific to your jurisdiction.

Can I pay myself a dividend every month?

The frequency of dividend payments depends on the availability of distributable profits and the decision of the company’s board of directors. Dividends can be paid more frequently than once a year, but it is important to ensure that the company has sufficient profits to cover the dividends. The board of directors should assess the financial health of the company and its ability to maintain regular dividend payments. It is recommended to consult with an accountant or tax professional who can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances and the legal requirements of your jurisdiction.

Freephone including all mobiles

Scroll to Top