Steve Livingston

When Can I File Form SEIS1 with HMRC? What is the timing for when it can be filed?

A super quick update on a question I regularly receive from clients regarding the timing of the filing of the form SEIS1 with HMRC for the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.

This form SEIS1 needs to be filed with HMRC for the SEIS investors to be able to secure the tax certificate that can be used to claim the tax relief, typically via their tax returns.
There are two (either/or) conditions:
1. You must have spent at least 70% of the cash that you raised under that particular round of funding to which the SEIS related OR 
2. You must have carried on the (new qualifying) trade for at least four months 

One of these conditions must have been satisfied. I must confess that in practice I find that the majority of my clients hit the 70% of cash being spent condition first (!) but either is fine.

Learn more here:

Curve smashes crowdfunding target on CrowdCube

Amazing result from the guys at Curve in raising their target £1m fund-raise in FOUR MINUTES (!) and hitting £6m within five hours…

Seriously!?! A truly phenomenal result for the team there and, to be fair, it’s a great product (as I’ve already got a card myself and love it!).

Anyhow, most startups are not going to see these sorts of results and we shouldn’t lose sight of how far along these guys were already in their growth plans. See the video for more.

Using SEIS / EIS to boost funding

For most UK startup founders, they shouldn’t lose sight of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) to help attract and boost funding.

These are attractive tax incentives that benefit the investors directly (in income tax and capital gains tax reliefs) and you as the founder indirectly (as the investors should be more willing to invest in your company).

Unfortunately, the rules around SEIS/EIS can be complex so please reach out for help.

Read more from Curve:

Link to Crowdcube fundraising page:

R&D Tax – Credit Where Credit’s Due

Credit where credit is due, to be fair this is a good report issued by Coadec (the Coalition for a Digital Economy representing UK tech startups and scale-ups) about the state of the UK R&D tax credit incentive.

In a nutshell, the Coadec report calls for better policy alignment of this tax relief with the realities of digital & tech development today (e.g. in terms of categories of qualifying costs) and an overall clean-up of the R&D tax credit advisory industry at large.

I couldn’t agree more with the points raised – especially the latter point around instilling better regulation and service standards to R&D tax boutiques and consultancies. I have advised on the R&D tax relief since its inception in 2000 and it is scary to see the “have-a-go-heroes” emerging from seemingly all corners right now to advise companies on this area of tax legislation.

Overall, it is a good report. I run through the Exec Summary in my video. I suggest you give the full report a read, especially if you’re running a tech startup:

Let me know your views.

Rule of 4 – Ever heard of it?

The Rule of 4 is a pretty important rule to be aware of when it comes to the matter of financial independence and wealth creation – yet not a lot of people seem to know about it.

First things first, a key concept that the wealthy understand (and the masses don’t are never taught) is that the key to wealth is to spend income, never capital.

So you invest to accumulate capital, and that capital then generates income in the form of dividends (from stocks & shares); interest from savings and bonds and possibly rental income from property. You can then live off the income that the capital throws off.

But how much capital do you need to accumulate to live a comfortable life?

The definition of a comfortable life is in the eye of the beholder so you need to work out what cash you would need to achieve your ideal lifestyle (tip – it’s probably a lot less than you think. Tim Ferris wrote about this phenomenon in his iconic “Four Hour Workweek” book).

Say you think that £40,000 per year is your ideal income, then this is the amount of cash that your capital investments would need to generate. And just think, this income could be in perpetuity *.

So where does the Rule of 4 come in?

Take your £40k of annual income and divide it by 4% – this will show you how much capital you would need to have stashed away in investments (that generate dividend & interest) to see you through year on year.

Applying the Rule of 4 to £40k, you would need a cool £1m in capital. Another way of calculating this is to multiply your annual income needs by 25 – same calculation, just multiplying rather than dividing to get to the same answer.

Some might not need as much as £40k per year, whilst others might need more. It’s just useful to know your target capital number by applying the rule of 4.

* The 4% rule has been tested and obviously market conditions and timing impact on the % returns that can be achieved but 4% has held up well over decades. If you want to be ultra-cautious, a 3% rule might be more applicable as the 4% rule may nibble at your capital sum over an extended period whereas 3% is less likely.

** Not financial advice, yada yada

SEIS / EIS Advance Assurance: Don’t forget..

Don’t forget that you need the names and addresses of prospective investors when applying to HMRC for advance assurance that your company is a qualifying company for the purposes of issuing shares under EIS or SEIS.

Many founders are still unaware and can end up wasting valuable time as HMRC will reject the application immediately.

The problem for many entrepreneurs is that it’s a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation – the investors will normally only express interest once the company has secured advance assurance from HMRC that it qualifies…

Per HMRC’s guidance:

If you’re applying for EIS or SEIS and your company:
– is raising money directly from investors: you must provide the name and address of any prospective investors
– is listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) – you do not need to provide investor information
– plans to list on AIM – you must provide the name and registration number of the nominated adviser that supports its listing
– seeks investment through a fund manager or business promoter – you must provide evidence that they’ve agreed to act on your behalf and will continue to work with you
– seeks investment through a crowdfunding platform – you must provide evidence that they’ve accepted your proposal and will continue to work with you

How to Incorporate a UK company AND file for corporation tax and employee taxes (PAYE) all in one go

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Here’s a neat little tip for the formation of a UK company whilst filing with HMRC for company corporation tax and Pay as You Earn (PAYE) for you and your (future) employees all in one go.

This all-in-one registration service is offered by the UK Government online portal. All for the grand old price of just £12 at the time of recording. And yes, your company can be up and running within 24 hours. That’s tough to beat!

This is a service offered and it’s a service that not a lot of people seem to know about – especially judging by the low uptake per this press release dated 4 Jan 2019.

This quick and easy approach might not suit everyone. If you are unsure or especially if you have a complex case such as seeking funding e.g. via the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) or the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), then you may wish to seek advice from a qualified accountant or lawyer.

You can access the Streamlined Company Registration Service via this link:…

Essential Technology Work Tools (Nov 2018)

Here’s our preferred current core ‘technology stack’ at work:


Trello is our core project management tool.

It has become our central dashboard to running our business. We are power-users at our Firm so we track everything into and via Trello.

All tasks are set up as cards and passed through the Kanban-style workflow process. Boards are linked to other boards so that everything can be seen at the touch of a button.

We know internally where all work is up to, what’s outstanding and what’s been done – all clear from one central dashboard.


Slack is the ’email-killer’.  It is a great way to communicate both internally and externally with clients (in shared channels).

So much more intuitive and user-friendly than email.


When you have to use email, it’s still the best out there.

We just use the normal Gmail client user interface. We’ve trialled different ‘front-ends’ but keep coming back to Gmail primarily due to the add-ons and extensions that can be built in (e.g. into Trello, Slack, Loom etc).


The best way of communicating with clients for calls. It can be used both for video and teleconference calls. So much more reliable than Skype. Nice integrations with Google Calendar to set up Zoom meetings directly via calendar invitations too.

There’s a decent free plan.

Loom / Soapbox

Good for quick video screen recordings or short presentations. Both are free in their basic form.

Soapbox is provided via Wistia and is marginally better, but the downside is that you can’t download videos unless you upgrade to their fairly expensive annual subscription.


Great for quick ‘on-the-fly’ screen-grabs and short GIF demos or how-to explainers. Works well with a Chrome extension and lightening fast.


A simply awesome ‘bridge’ to make your favourite apps or online tools (like those above), talk to one another.

Really intuitive, with no coding skills required. Automation at your fingertips. Mind blown…

Which technology tools couldn’t you live without in your business?

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

“The Quality of Your Life is Determined by the Quality of the Questions that You Ask Yourself”

If this quote is true, it begs the question whether we have been digging deep and asking ourselves those powerful questions that might help shape our lives…?

Here are a few to get you thinking:

  1. “Who” not “How”? (don’t try to do it all – find those that already have the skills and hire them)
  2. Do you want to work for your business or do you want your business to work for you?
  3. What are your unique skills? What could you do all day and feel in the flow?
  4. If money was no object, what would you be doing right now?
  5. What is stopping you doing that thing that you answered for Q.4. (hint: it’s probably not solely down to ‘money’)

What are the most powerful questions that you have heard or live by…?