Difference between Micro, Small and Medium enterprises

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Businesses can be classified as micro, small, or medium according to size, type, investment limit, and turnover. Small and medium-sized businesses are often regarded as the foundation of every thriving economy as they promote growth, generate jobs, and open new markets.

Micro, small, and medium enterprises are companies with a limited number of employees that vary in terms of the size of the company and the amount of money the company makes annually.

This blog post will examine the differences between micro, small, and medium businesses. Let’s get started!

Table of contents

How are micro, small, and medium enterprises different?
What are the taxes for small and medium enterprises?
What are some of the tax reliefs for small and medium businesses UK?
Final thoughts

How are micro, small, and medium enterprises different?

Here are some fundamental differences between micro, small, and medium-sized businesses in the UK.

Business sizeTurnover less thanBalance sheet total less thanHead count less than
Micro€2 million€2 million10
Small€10 million€10 million50
Medium€50 million€43 million250

Micro enterprises
A business is a micro enterprise if it has:

1. annual revenue of less than €2 million;
2. the total value of assets listed on the balance sheet of less than €2 million; or
3. employee count of fewer than 10 employees.

Small enterprises
A business is a small enterprise if it has:

1. annual revenue of less than €10 million;
2. the total value of assets listed on the balance sheet of less than €10 million; or
3. employee count of fewer than 50 employees.

    Medium enterprises
    A business is a medium enterprise if it has:

    1. annual revenue of less than €50 million;
    2. the total value of assets listed on the balance sheet of less than €43 million; or
    3. employee count of fewer than 250 employees.

    If knowing your business type is complex, you can hire a financial expert to guide you and make the right decision. 

    What are the taxes for small and medium enterprises?

    1. VAT
    Most products and services are subject to VAT (value-added tax). VAT registration is compulsory if the annual revenue exceeds £85,000, excluding exempt sales.

    2. Corporation tax
    If your business is a limited company, you must pay corporation tax on all profits, including those from trading and selling assets or investments.

    You need to register for this tax when you form a limited business (within three months of starting to trade).

    You must also maintain accurate business records and submit a company tax return before the deadline to ensure that you pay the correct amount of tax, or you can hire an accountant to handle this for you.

    From 01 April 2023, the corporation tax rate is between 19% to 25%, depending on business profits.

    3. Business rates
    Business rates are charged on the majority of commercial properties.

    If you work from home and only use a small portion of your house (like one room), you might not be liable for paying business rates.

    If you use a significant portion of the property for business, you might be required to pay business rates (e.g. a shop with living space above it).

    4. Employers’ National Insurance Contributions
    If you hire employees, you have to pay NICs on their salaries. These are called secondary Class 1 NICs,’ in contrast to ‘primary Class 1 NICs,’ which employees pay through PAYE.

    Most employee benefits (e.g., private medical insurance, business automobiles) and expenses claimed by them will require you to pay these contributions.

    The amount is typically 13.8% of the employee’s earnings or benefits, while some workers, such as those earning £175 or less per week, are exempt.

    Use our employer NIC calculator to calculate your NIC liabilities.

    What are some of the tax reliefs for small and medium businesses UK?

    Starting a small business in the UK is an excellent idea because it has low taxes for companies. Here are a few tax reliefs offered to small and medium-sized enterprises.

    1. Capital allowances
    You can deduct capital allowances from the costs of the assets you purchase for your business.

    These assets include things like machinery, equipment, automobiles and vans. You can reduce your tax burden by deducting the cost of these items from your profits.

    2. Research and development tax relief
    Research and Development (R&D) tax relief is a deduction in a business tax bill or an amount paid by HMRC. It is based on how much a company invests in R&D initiatives focused on advancing science or technology.

    It enables small enterprises to deduct up to 130% of their R&D costs for a total deduction of 230%.

    3. Patent box
    If your business has patented inventions and earns a profit from them, you can reduce your corporation tax to 10%.

    The relevant income must come from a specific source, such as the sale of patented goods, the licensing or sale of patent rights, the revenue from patent infringement, damages or other compensation resulting from the patent rights, or the use of a patented manufacturing process or tool.

    4. Creative industry tax relief
    Businesses operating in the creative industry may be eligible for tax relief. This incentive encourages investment while promoting relevant cultural production in the UK.

    5. Employment allowance
    If your small business pays Class 1 National Insurance for your employees, you can claim annual savings of up to £5,000. You cannot claim if you are the only employee in your business or if your employee performs domestic or personal work (unless they are a carer).

    Final thoughts

    Knowing the difference between micro, small, and medium-sized businesses is essential for conducting better analyses and understanding the functions of each one of them.

    If you find it difficult, consult an accountant or expert to help you expand your business, pay the proper tax, understand how to get funds, and much more.

    Experlu Editorial Team
    The editorial team at Experlu is comprised of seasoned financial professionals dedicated to providing high-quality content on accounting and finance. With a wealth of experience and diverse expertise, the team produces insightful articles that have established the Experlu blog as the UK's leading financial and accounting resource. The team includes accountants, auditors, and business advisors who stay updated with the latest industry developments. Their commitment to excellence ensures that Experlu remains a trusted source of information, helping readers stay informed about audit, business, finance, and tax matters.