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A No-Nonsense SEIS Guide for Start-Ups Seeking Investment

Gary Green
Gary Green
June 11, 2019

The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) is similar to the EIS. It focuses on smaller, early-stage companies seeking investment.

The firm Seeking investment must be carrying on, or preparing to carry on, a new business in a qualifying trade.

The SEIS scheme is only suitable for small unquoted companies and the rules of the scheme make that clear.

The fact that the SEIS provides extensive Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax breaks for investors greatly encourages much-needed seed capital in new businesses. However, it is important that any business looking to raise start-up investment does not just focus on the SEIS scheme rules but also on making the venture attractive to potential investors.

Conditions For SEIS

For its investors to be able to claim and keep the SEIS tax reliefs relating to their shares, the company which issues the shares has to meet a number of requirements. Some of these apply only at the time the relevant shares are issued.

Other conditions must be met continuously, either for the whole of the period from the date of incorporation to the third anniversary of the date of issue of the shares or in some cases, from the date of issue of the shares to the third anniversary of their issue. If the company ceases to meet one or more of those conditions, investors may have their tax relief withdrawn.

One of the most important conditions to be met in order to be able to use the SEIS is to ensure that the qualifying trades conditions are met. A qualifying trade is defined by HMRC as a trade which is conducted on a commercial basis with a view to the realisation of profit.

Excluded Businesses

Whilst most business activities can use, are a number of important business types don't qualify for SEIS. Excluded trades:

  • property development
  • operating or managing hotels or nursing/care homes
  • a number of financial activities

There are also special rules that stop you using the scheme for tax avoidance. A new start-up following the qualifying criteria will be in a very strong position to attract investment and start growing. You can try another fundraising round using the EIS or VCT schemes a short time after the SEIS investment. This can really help businesses and investors succeed.

If you would like to discuss further the benefits of seeking investment, please get in touch. We would also recommend that any start-up seeking investment applies for advance approval from HMRC.

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