The SEIS and EIS Investment Schemes, and Why They’re Different
30 January 2020
Business investors are often looking for ways to make tax-efficient investments. The most in-the-know investors will diversify their investment portfolios with at least one SEIS UK company or EIS UK company.
But what is SEIS? Or EIS? SEIS stands for Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. EIS stands for Enterprise Investment Scheme. These are schemes created by the UK government, which gives a tax break to investors. They get the tax break by investing in high-risk companies in their early stages.
To get the benefits of SEIS and EIS investments, you’ll need to make sure the company and shares are eligible for the SEIS and EIS. You will also need to be eligible yourself for these initiatives. Otherwise, you may not receive the tax breaks you’re expecting.
To make yourself and your startup more attractive to investors, you can use the SEIS and EIS. People are much more likely to invest in your startup if they know it will make them SEIS and EIS eligible. That’s exactly why the government created the schemes. It is part of their way of supporting SMEs in the UK. The UK government realized that one of the barriers for startups was getting the funds need to expand. That’s why they created the SEIS and EIS.
Learn below more about this topic in this article created by our team at TMS.
What is SEIS?
Are you wondering about what is SEIS? As mentioned above, SEIS stands for Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. The government created it in the UK in 2012. The purpose was to get more investors interested in investing in UK-based startups.
The way it works is by giving tax relief to those investors who qualify for the SEIS. They must subscribe to shares within eligible companies. To assess if a company comes under the SEIS, companies or investors can contact HMRC to find out.
The tax relief may be up to 64% with this scheme. The SEIS investors must be helping small companies in the early stages.
If you’re a startup owner looking for investors, it could help greatly to become part of the SEIS or EIS. It could make investing in your business much more attractive. If you’re an investor, it’s worth looking into these schemes.
SEIS provides the following great benefits:
- You could have tax relief of up to 50% against the amount you invested
- You could be exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) when you sell your shares. This is if you’ve had the shares for at least three years.
- If in the same tax year, CGT write-off of 50% of the amount invested
- If the shares are held for more than two years, they are usually free of inheritance tax (IHT)
- If you have to sell your shares at a loss, you could offset this against Income Tax or CGT.
- The investor may take back some or all of the money invested in the preceding year of investment
The Criteria for SEIS Eligibility
What are the requirements to be eligible for SEIS as an investor?
- The maximum amount of investment in any amount of qualifying businesses is£100,000.
- You need to keep the shares for at least three years. If you don’t, you will experience relief clawback.
- Your SEIS tax relief cannot be carried forward.
- You need to be a taxpayer in the UK.
What is EIS?
So, then what is EIS? As described, EIS stands for Enterprise Investment Scheme. It goes along with the SEIS but helps more established companies. The goal is still to attract more investors.
EIS companies offer a few types of tax relief to investors. They may be direct investors or those through an EIS fund or portfolio service. Again, it must be an EIS eligible company invested in by an EIS eligible investor.
EIS is designed to help grow established companies. On the other hand, SEIS targets smaller companies who’ve only just started.
EIS has been around since 1994. The idea of the UK government was that new businesses could use SEIS for when they are at the proof of concept stage. Then they can move on to SEIS when they hit the seed round.
EIS provides the following great benefits:
- Capital Gains Tax (CGT) exemption is given to the sale of shares, ensured the investor kept them for at least three years.
- It’s possible to defer all their investment against CGT incurred either up to 1 year before or three years following disposal
- The shares must be held for two years, and then they are usually inheritance tax (IHT) free
- Shares can be offset against Income Tax or CGT if sold at a loss.
- It’s possible to take back some or all of an investment in the preceding year of investment.
The criteria for EIS eligibility
What are the requirements to be eligible for EIS as an investor?
- The maximum investment is £1 million in any amount of eligible companies, in each tax year.
- Shares must be held for at least three years. If you don’t adhere to this, you will experience relief clawback.
- Your EIS tax relief cannot be carried forward.
- You must be a taxpayer in the UK.
- You can’t have a connection with the EIS company. A connection is defined as either being an employee, partner, or paid director.
- You can’t be buying the shares from the market; they need to be new.
SEIS vs. EIS – what’s the difference?
Image source: Angelsden
SEIS vs. EIS – they do have similarities. They are similar in the fact that they have the same purpose. To help early-stage companies attract investment. So, what’s the difference between EIS and SEIS? EIS companies are later-stage businesses. SEIS focuses on earlier stage companies.
Through SEIS, early-stage companies can attract investments up to £100,000 per tax year. The investor could get a 50% tax break on this. The investor would also enjoy an exemption from capital gains tax on profits from the sale of their shares. This is provided that they wait three years to sell the shares, whereas EIS focuses on startups of medium size. The investor could invest up to £1 million per tax year. This would get them a 30% tax break, and they get the same benefit as with SUIS of capital gains tax exemption on share sale profits. Again, provided that they kept the shares for at least three years.
Startups looking for investors for money could become more attractive if they qualify for SEIS or EIS. The tax relief for investors can be a big drawcard towards investing in your company. If you’re an investor, get to know EIS and SEIS. This could help you make excellent investments with more benefits for you. It’s important to note that SEIS investment will give you more tax relief; this is because it is riskier.
There are a few companies that will qualify for both SEIS and EIS. In this case, the first investors will get SUIS, and once that allowance is up, other investors will get EIS. You’ll get an email confirming which you qualified for, SEIS or EIS.
Ending thoughts on SEIS and EIS
If used correctly, SEIS and EIS can be excellent ways of attracting investors. Entrepreneurs and expanding businesses can use these to encourage investment. Investors enjoy these schemes for tax breaks. The investments could raise more money, which is a better outcome for the investor.
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