SEIS

5 Tips on Applying for SEIS / EIS HMRC Advance Assurance

Having prepared and filed too many to mention (!), here are a 5 tips on applying for SEIS / EIS HMRC advance assurance:

1. Don’t leave it too late! HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are generally pretty good in turning around applications within 30 days but it can peak to 6 weeks around key tax deadlines e.g. 31 Jan self assessment tax return filing date and 5 April end of personal tax year.

2. Use the form that HMRC provide for you but you may wish to accompany the form with a covering letter, as there’s not much room to disclose any additional matters that might be relevant. Don’t forget, this is a tax clearance document and therefore, HMRC will reserve the right to withdraw an approval if it later transpires that you didn’t disclose all of the facts. You have been warned!

3. The advance assurance application process is not mandatory but is well advised for two principal reasons: i) most investors will insist on evidence of HMRC approval for their own peace of mind before parting with their investment cheque [update: it is now a requirement that you include the names and addresses of prospective investors in your application]. ii) it gets you onto HMRC’s radar for the second stage which is to complete and file forms SEIS1 / EIS1 which is necessary for the investors to be able to claim the tax relief. If you haven’t applied for advance assurance, HMRC generally ask all of the sorts of questions that would have been covered in the advance assurance application in any case.

4. If you foresee that you will be seeking to raise both EIS cash after a SEIS round then apply for both within a single advance assurance application. [Update: the most recent version of the HMRC form now more easily allows for the two boxes to be ticked}

5. Take care if you are a software company and will be generating revenues from licence fee income (as most will). You will be relying on a carve-out from an otherwise non-qualifying ‘excluded activity’ – in receiving royalty or licence fee income – which states that you can qualify as a SEIS / EIS company only if the whole, or greater part, of the underlying intellectual property that generates the revenues is created by your company.

I hope you find these tips useful. If you need more, you could subscribe for this free SEIS/EIS course (below) and/or you could reach out for specialist assistance here.

March Budget 2014 – Key points for Digital, tech & creative companies

Highlights include:

  • Increase in payable R&D tax credit for loss-making SMEs from 11% to 14.5% for expenditure incurred on or after 1 April 2014. This means that approximately 33% of qualifying spend is eligible for a tax credit rather than the current 24.75%
  • Seed EIS (SEIS) turned into a permanent tax relief given its success along with the 50% CGT exemption for gains reinvested
  • Doubling of the Annual Investment Allowance from £250,000 to £500,000 for expenditure incurred on or after 1 April 2014 for companies until 31 December 2015. This will allow 99% of companies to get 100% write off of their investment into capital expenditure in the year of expenditure (excludes buildings and most cars).
  • Personal allowance increase to £10,500 from April 2015 (£10,000 from 6 April 2014) and an increase in the basic rate tax band to allow higher rate tax payers to receive some of the benefit.
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Taxation of Innovation – How UK tax incentives support the innovation lifecycle

Here are the slides that I used to present to the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) at a seminar in Liverpool last week. The key relevant theme was the Patent Box (given the audience) but my objective was to emphasise how and where the Patent Box fits into the wider series of Government tax incentives aimed at innovative IP-rich UK companies.

From start-up we have the Seed EIS followed by EIS for tax efficient funding. Both schemes are designed to support companies undertaking R&D work and creating their own IP.

R&D tax credits then step into support companies during the development phase. The R&D tax credit relief continues to be a fantastic source of support for UK companies but up until 1 April 2013 there was a cliff-edge at the exploitation stage as there were no tax incentives there to support IP rich companies.

This where the Patent Box steps in to support companies with qualifying patents to complete the innovation business lifecycle.

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Can I raise funding under both the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)?

The quick answer is YES – you can raise funding under both SEIS and EIS but there are some important points to watch including:

  1. If you wish to raise cash under both schemes, you must issue shares under SEIS before EIS. You can’t raise money and issue shares under EIS and then seek to raise money and issue under shares under SEIS after. It kinda makes sense but one to watch…
  2. You can only follow on with an issue of shares to investors under EIS once you’ve spent at least 70% of the SEIS cash (no sniggering at the back!). This can raise some practical difficulties as the SEIS investment limit for the company is capped at £150,000 so you don’t want to be back out on the investment trail too soon. It is possible to raise the SEIS and EIS money jointly but to take great care in the issue, timing and other matters related to the shares and investors. *******
  3. There are some other ‘funnies’ around timing of appointment to Director etc which can differ between the schemes among other things so you need to take care as you don’t want to jeopardise the EIS relief further down the line.

Drop me a line if you need any help either via the contact page or on Twitter (@stevelivingston) or via my specialist tax advisory firm, ip tax solutions.

******* Note that this 70% rule has been abolished for share issues post 5 April 2015

 

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What is the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) Advance Assurance?

What is the seed enterprise investment scheme advance assurance video?

I am getting a lot of questions at the moment about the process for raising funding under Seed EIS and where the advance assurance fits in?

The Advance Assurance is a mechanism that allows companies to pre-qualify themselves with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as a qualifying company for the purposes of raising funding under SEIS. It is not obligatory – although it is good practice. Most sophisticated investors will insist that the company has received advance assurance from HMRC of its qualifying status before investing as do many of the crowd-funding sites.

The other factor to take into account in deciding whether or not to seek advance assurance is that when you get to the stage of filing your SEIS compliance statement with HMRC (in order to secure the tax certification for the investors to allow them to claim their SEIS tax relief), if you haven’t already filed an advance assurance, the likelihood is that you will have to answer a series of questions from HMRC regarding the company’s qualifying status much like you would have completed at the time of the advance assurance – so you may as well have gone for it in any case and got yourself on HMRC’s radar as well as gaining comfort for the investors from the outset!

The process for seeking advance assurance is to use HMRC’s own SEIS advance assurance application form. If your facts are particularly complex or you would like assurance in relation to certain aspects then I tend to supplement the form with a letter to ensure that I have disclosed all of the relevant facts – so there is no come-back further down the line…

If you would like any assistance in relation to the Seed EIS advance assurance process then you can drop me a line here or at my specialist advisory firm, ip tax solutions.

 

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How to apply for advance assurance for SEIS / EIS

HOT OFF THE PRESS: We’ve just launched a brand new online course that shows you exactly how to complete and file your SEIS / EIS advance assurance application with HMRC. We walk you through every stage of filling out the form plus share some additional resources to help ensure a smoother passage through HMRC. Access it by clicking here. [Use the code: SEISAA2017 to get 50% off in January]

A short overview of how to apply for advance assurance from HM Revenue & Customs that your company is a qualifying company for the purposes of raising funding under the Seed Enterprise (SEIS) or Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). [Update – the form looks different now and is an online form – check out our course for the latest version (Jan 2017)]

You can find the SEIS / EIS advance assurance application form here.

The process normally takes 30 days for HM Revenue & Customs to issue advance assurance or revert back with any questions.

You can seek specialist professional SEIS / EIS assistance here.

SEIS | Need to know facts for startups

SEIS Need to know tips for startups from Business N2K on Vimeo.

A short 5 min overview of the Seed EIS tax incentive and need to know facts and tips for startup founders.

Remember, SEIS requires a subscription for shares – loans do not work.

Look forward to your feedback and experience of using the scheme in the comments section below.

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What is SEIS?

SEIS: Startup term I wish I understood but was afraid to ask!

Here is a brief overview of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme from a company founder’s perspective.

Armed with more knowledge about this fantastic UK tax incentive aimed at start ups and early stage growth companies, hopefully we can get more impetus behind this government scheme and more backing for promising new companies.

If you need any specific advice, please contact me.

Or try our SEIS DIY Kit.

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Crowdfunding: A useful tool for navigating sources

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.17.22With a new crowdfunding platform emerging seemingly every week, it has become increasingly difficult to keep track of them – let alone their particular business model, approach and fee structure.

NESTA has released a timely online platform that provides a useful summary of the key features of the various crowdfunding platforms available right now.

There are some useful filtering tools plus some high level tips and additional information for founders seeking funding and potential investors. It may have been helpful for the site to list a little more info on SEIS / EIS funding opportunities given the extra kick starter this can provide for UK businesses.

Overall, I hope this site is maintained as it should prove to be a useful resource.

Click here to access the platform.
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£1m benefit of being a tax aware entrepreneur

EuphoriaMark knew that his new business would be at the cutting-edge of technology and potentially even a world-player – exactly the sort of business that the UK Government is keen to promote and support in the form of tax incentives.

Fully aware of the opportunities that the UK tax code provided for releasing cash into his new venture, Mark kicked off by raising an initial £150,000 under the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). A 50% income tax break for the investors made it easier to nudge up the cash they were willing to part with; plus the opportunity to sell their shares after three years – capital gains tax ‘free’ – made the investment even sweeter. Mark had pondered utilising this tax break on his own £10,000 investment into the company but decided that, on this occasion he wanted to retain more than 30% of the share capital (which precluded him from SEIS) – maybe next time…

This SEIS cash would be used to fund the R&D phase in employing a small team of developers. Given that the company was pre-revenue, Mark was able to claim a welcome tax refund from HM Revenue & Customs under the SME R&D tax credit scheme. This released in excess of £30,000 into the business which was promptly used to fund a further developer outside the SEIS funds to accelerate the project.

Having made significant inroads on the R&D work (whilst burning through in excess of 70% of the SEIS cash!), Mark approached investors for a further round of funding – this time under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS’s ‘big brother’!). A 30% income tax break this time for investors (plus potential for a capital gains free exit) provided sufficient enticement for investors to inject a further £2m into the company.

Meanwhile, whilst the R&D work was ongoing, Mark had made investigations regarding the potential for filing one or more patents on aspects of the underlying invention generated by the R&D work. With the arrival of the new Patent Box tax incentive from 1 April 2013, Mark knew that a 10% corporation tax rate by 2017 on worldwide income derived from qualifying patents could add additional value to his company as it approached an exit as well as releasing further much needed cash into the business from now until then.

Eyeing an exit in 3-5 years time, Mark ensured he retained at least 5% of the share capital post dilution at each funding round in order to secure a capital gains tax rate of just 10% on his first £10m of gains. His SEIS and EIS investors should be extra happy with a 0% capital gains tax rate after three years!

All in all, Mark had pulled the relevant statutory tax incentive levers to maximise the release of cash into his business at each stage of its life-cycle. What was this worth? It depends – the SEIS, R&D and EIS savings total approximately £700,000 but assuming a profitable few years under the the Patent Box and taking into account the above savings it is not difficult to reach overall pre-exit cash tax savings of £1m+.

Getting advice from the start can get you on the road to being a tax aware entrepreneur…

image credit:Creative Commons License Hartwig HKD via Compfight

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