Here’s an audio summary of 10 key benefits of the UK R&D tax credits government tax incentive from our R&D Tax Credits podcast.
RD002 – What’s so good about R&D Tax Credits?
Hi, my name’s Steve Livingston, and welcome to this podcast on R&D Tax Credits. Something a bit different in terms of how we can really share the information and help more companies access this very generous UK government tax relief.
First and foremost to introduce myself, my name is Steve Livingston, I’m the founder of a tax advisory firm called IP Tax Solutions. I’m a chartered accountant, and I’ve been advising companies for fast approaching 15 to 20 years, so fairly experienced in this area, and especially how we do tax reliefs. I have been a qualified Chartered Accountant since 2000.
So, I’ve worked with a lot of companies across a diverse range of sectors, and I think that’s one important thing to note from outset here, this research and development tax relief applies to pretty much any company in any sector. And so you may well find that you’re a founder or a director of a company, and you may have heard of this relief, but you may not be quite sure how it could apply to you.
This podcast aims to run through a series of questions about how it really works in practice; how it may apply to you and really answer frequently asked questions. That’s the format we’re going to take here so you can maybe pick and choose which ones you want to listen to. You can listen to them all if you like. Fill your boots! But you don’t have to do that at all, it’s really a case of giving you an awareness, and I should say in terms of legal blurb this isn’t professional advice, this really is just a case of education, and hopefully some entertainment on the way, as you can learn more about how this tax relief could benefit you.
So, without further ado let’s jump into the episodes. We’re going to try and cover a question in each podcast episode. We’ll aim to be quite short and snappy, so that you don’t have to get too bogged down in detail. But if you’ve got any questions you can of course shoot them over to me. You can find me at iptaxsolutions.co.uk. I also have a site at businessn2K.com. Or you can find me over an email, which you’ll find via those websites.
Again, let’s dive in. As I say, my name’s Steve Livingston. The people who are going to benefit from this podcast are really founders, directors of primarily SME companies, or they may be in charge of a large company, but hopefully find these of use. That’s all for now, speak to you soon.
In this episode of the Get Funded! podcast we cover the types of trades that qualify for funding under the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).
We discuss the HMRC excluded activities list that you need to check to confirm that your proposed trade is not listed i.e. excluded. If not, then you should be okay.
There is a relaxation for these excluded activities to be included within your trade although it must not amount to a ‘substantial’ proportion of your overall trade. ‘Substantial’ for these purposes is deemed to amount to no more than 20%. The HMRC advance assurance procedure would be key in these circumstances.
We pay particular attention to the potential problem for software companies (particularly software-as-a-service (Saas) based companies) given that the receipt of royalties or licence fee income IS an excluded activity. There is a carve-out from this exclusion for companies that create the whole or greater part of the underlying asset that generates the licence or royalty fee income – most software companies rely on this exemption to qualify for SEIS / EIS – but there are some further traps for the unwary….
In this edition of the Get Funded! podcast we cover the thorny subjects of:
- what “trading” means for the purposes of SEIS and
- how this interplays with the definition of “Seed” in order to be eligible for Seed Enterprise Investment Relief?
We covered in a previous edition (subscribe via iTunes if you’ve not already!) the fact that you need to be undertaking a qualifying trade within your company if you wish to raise funding under SEIS / EIS but when is this deemed to start and why is it important?
We need to ascertain the starting point for any trade as this has important ramifications for eligibility under SEIS and it also plays into when form SEIS1 can be applied for and / or the timing of the use of the monies raised.
Frustratingly there is no definition of trading aside from the general observation that it would involve undertaking activities with a view to a profit. But what does this mean in practice?
I have discussed this with HMRC Inspectors and they tend to apply the useful anology of a new shop: whilst the new fittings are being installed and the stock is on order you would expect the sign on the front to say ‘closed’ (it is not yet trading). Once the shop is ready and the sign is turned to ‘open’ then trading has commenced.
So the question for your business is whether you are in a position to accept paying customers? This can get a little hazy for software startups, for example, applying lean startup principles and beta launches etc…
For SEIS purposes, a company must be carrying out a new qualifying trade. For these purposes the trade must be less than two years old. So you must apply the above principles to determine when your trade started. If you are using a company that was incorporated more than two years ago and there has been activity in the company within this timeframe that might point to a trade then this could cause problems. You would be well advised to seek advance assurance from HMRC and to explain the position to ensure that there are no problems. Likewise, if you are acquiring the trade from a third party company then you would need to ensure that it satisfied the two year rule.
When seeking the tax certificates for the investors this can be carried out after 70% of the monies raised has been spent or four months after the trade commenced – whichever is earlier. Again the above principles come into play.
Here in this edition of the Get Funded! podcast we cover the essential requirements related to your company and its eligibility for SEIS / EIS funding.
As you might expect for such a generous tax relief, it is not available to all companies – instead it is targeted at small – medium sized companies with the capacity for growth (along with a healthy dose of risk!).
The key company requirements for SEIS / EIS are as follows:
- The company must be unquoted i.e. it must not be quoted on a recognised stock exchange. Note that the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) is okay for SEIS / EIS purposes as it is not counted by HMRC as a ‘recognised stock exchange’
- The company must have a UK permanent establishment. Most companies will be incorporated in the UK so this isn’t normally an issue but this demonstrates that the rules are more flexible than some might appreciate – it could be an overseas company with a UK branch / permanent establishment and still qualify
- For SEIS, the company must have gross assets of no more than £200,000 at the time of the issue of the shares – here we are concerned with total assets on the balance sheet only NOT net assets (ie after deducting liabilities). Where there are subsidiaries, these must be totalled up.
- For EIS, the gross assets limit is £15m immediately before and £16m after the use.
- For SEIS, the company must have fewer than 25 employees immediately before the relevant share issue
- For EIS, the employee limit is 249.
- The company must be carrying out a qualifying trade – the definition of what constitutes a ‘qualifying trade’ for SEIS / EIS purposes is deduced in reverse by reference to the ‘Excluded activities’ list – so if you’re not on it you should be okay! We’ll cover this in more detail in a future podcast as there are some potential traps here especially for software companies…
- For SEIS, the company must not have received EIS or VCT monies.
This is a thorny subject that comes up time and time again:
How much of the share capital can I or my investors own under SEIS / EIS?
In this seventh episode of the Get Funded! podcast we cover the (dreaded) “substantial interest” test that basically says that you can’t hold more than 30% of the issued share capital and qualify for SEIS / EIS.
I say “dreaded” because it is not just you or your investor that you need to consider but also any “associates” too. “Associates” include spouses plus parents, children, grand-parents etc (basically blood relations up and down). Brothers and sisters are not counted as “associates”.
Many startup companies get tripped up by this rule so watch out for it!
This episode was brought to you by ip tax solutions – specialists in R&D tax credits
In this episode of the Get Funded! podcast we cover:
Getting your share capital right!
Not every type of share is eligible under SEIS / EIS and given the attractive tax benefits offered to investors, this is little surprise. SEIS /EIS investors cannot receive shares that have preferential rights. They must be – what we like to call –
“Full fat, full risk ordinary shares”
We also cover a couple of pointers to watch out for if you are raising money alongside VCs to ensure that the SEIS / EIS investors don’t lose out and how to avoid losing the relief by accident in the future….
This podcast is brought to you by ip tax solutions | the innovation tax specialists
So essential, in fact, that without it, you could mess up the SEIS relief for your investors before you’ve even really got started!
We also cover the maximum amount that you can raise under SEIS being £150,000 and the importance of getting the order right if raising cash under EIS too i.e. SEIS then EIS and not the other way around.
There are changes afoot around the interaction of these reliefs and the “70%” rule but this merits a separate episode – coming soon….! (Subscribe below ;) )
“Get ready to slice the pie!”
This show is all about the need to issue shares in return for a cash investment if it is to be eligible for SEIS or EIS under current rules.
We also cover what doesn’t qualify e.g. loans, and some tips around types of shares and nominal values of shares to help you get the SEIS share capital structure right from the outset.
Please subscribe and leave us a rating on iTunes – this will help this podcast get found by more entrepreneurs and help the UK get ahead in raising funding for exciting new startups!
- 50% income tax relief
- potential for 14% capital gains tax shelter
- IHT exemption after 2 years
- CGT free sale after 3 years
- Sideways income tax relief should the startup fail
All in all this can amount to up to 86.5% tax shelter for the investor so only 13.5% capital may be at risk.