The largest benefit of becoming an investor into an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)-eligible business is that it is highly tax-efficient, offering tax reliefs including the opportunity to claim back up to 30% of the value of your investment.
But that’s not all, beyond this headline-grabbing tax break, the EIS allows investors to:
- Dispose of shares without paying capital gains tax
- Defer the payment of capital gains tax
- Claim loss relief if the business fails
- Pass on the investment free of inheritance tax
The ability to add start-ups to your investment portfolio through the EIS brings many advantages. These include diversification, balance, and potentially strong returns.
But now more than ever, investing into early-stage businesses can be considered philanthropic, as they’re crucial to the bounce-back of the UK economy post-COVID-19.
If the generous tax incentives and philanthropic benefits have you eager to become an EIS investor, here’s what you need to know to get started.
How to find EIS opportunities
An obvious first step to getting started with EIS investments is knowing where to find them.
With EIS, you can choose to invest directly into EIS-eligible companies, or you can invest into an EIS fund whereby a fund manager builds a portfolio for you.
The method that you choose depends on a number of factors. Investing via an EIS fund can make diversification easier, and if you’re not the most seasoned investor, having a fund manager make decisions on your behalf could be beneficial.
However, for those looking for more choice, control and visibility over their EIS investments – with the chance to choose businesses based on interests, and build a portfolio around personal investment goals – direct investment might be the way forward.
It’s advised that before making investment decisions, you speak to an independent financial advisor.
You can find individual EIS-eligible investment opportunities in places such as Growth Capital Ventures’ (GCV) co-investment platform, GrowthFunders, which provides members with access to high quality, pre-vetted investment opportunities in early-stage and high-growth businesses.
Utilising tax-efficient structures such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and SIPP/ SSAS pensions where appropriate, GCV focuses on originating impact driven investment opportunities that have the potential to deliver superior investment returns as well as portfolio diversification.
Check that the business you’re looking to invest into is EIS-eligible
The business will – most likely – make it obvious that their investment opportunity is EIS-eligible, so you won’t have to do too much digging.
But it’s important to know that to become EIS-eligible, businesses must:
- be unquoted
- have less than 250 full-time employees
- have gross assets of less than £15 million
- be within seven years of its first commercial sale
There are certain trades that are not eligible for EIS investment. These can be checked with HMRC here, but include financial services, exporting energy and leasing activities.
How to choose the right EIS investment
There are a lot of EIS investment opportunities out there, so choosing which one(s) to invest into can be a challenge.
If the selection process is too overwhelming, investing via a managed EIS fund could be the answer. Keep in mind that there will often be fees associated with investing into an EIS fund, such as an annual management charge, and performance fees.
If you’re keen to go it alone and reap the benefits of having choice and control over your investments, there are a few things to consider when exploring potential opportunities.
You might want to seek an opportunity in a sector you know well, or that you’re particularly interested in.
Aside from the financial benefits, investing into a business can be a vehicle to pursue more interesting or meaningful work. Therefore, you may opt to support businesses involved in solving world problems through innovation.
It’s also important to assess the business model and team’s expertise, looking at their credentials and how realistic the plans are.
You can only exit from an EIS-eligible investment when the investee companies are sold, liquidated or listed. Therefore, consider the business’ exit strategy – does the time frame align with your goals as an investor?
What happens after the investment?
After investment into an EIS-eligible business, you will need to manage the tax implications and claim the tax reliefs available through the EIS.
Once the investee has been trading for four months and the investment has been processed, you will receive an EIS3 certificate to complete. You will need this to claim for tax relief through the self-assessment process.
You can find a step-by-step guide outlining how to claim here.
Live EIS-eligible investment opportunity
GCV has facilitated over £45 million of investment into high-growth tech businesses and contributed to the creation of over 600 jobs in the past five years.
And GCV are pleased to announce the launch of their latest EIS-eligible investment round, now open to new and existing private investors.
Read more: Live EIS-eligible investment opportunity
Investment from the current round will enable GCV to support 30 high-growth start-ups and create hundreds of new tech jobs within the North East through its Venture Builder unit, G-Labs. It will also allow GCV to increase internal headcount from 22 to 40 in the next 12 to 24 months. Now overfunded, having exceeded the initial target of £1 million, there is still time for new and existing investors to participate in this round before the deadline on Monday 30th November.