Research and analysis

Profit distribution and investment patterns of unlisted companies

The report explores unlisted companies’ profit distribution and investment patterns and their future plans for growth.



This research aimed to bridge the knowledge gap in relation to how unlisted companies retain, distribute or invest their profit, and the extent to which their decisions are influenced by the tax regime. This will assist HMRC in delivering a tax system that helps these businesses to invest and thrive, ultimately supporting economic growth.

The key research objectives were to investigate:

  • how unlisted companies distribute, retain and invest profit
  • differences in the composition of unlisted companies’ balance sheets
  • the relationship between unlisted companies investment strategies and their growth plans
  • the reasons, including tax-planning and growth plans, that companies exhibit particular profit-distribution and investment behaviours

This research involved a random probability telephone survey with 1,501 unlisted companies and 27 follow up qualitative in-depth interviews with companies that had agreed to be re-contacted.