EIS relief – overview
There are currently five EIS tax reliefs available to investors in qualifying companies:
1. EIS income tax relief
The cost of your investment can immediately be reduced by 30% by claiming tax relief on the income tax you have paid, providing:
- You must not be deemed connected with the company; generally speaking, this means not owning (or having owned in the previous two years) 30% or more of the company or being an employee of the company.
- You hold the shares for 3 years from the date of issue or from commencement of trading whichever is the later.
- You have paid sufficient income tax against which to claim tax relief. You can combine income tax paid in the current and previous financial year and claim relief below or up to this amount.
There is no minimum investment per company and the maximum in respect of which an investor may obtain income tax relief in any given year is £1M.
2. CGT freedom
Providing shares are held for a minimum of 3 years (from the date of issue or commencement of trading) whichever is the later, then no Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is payable.
Shares can be held for longer, so if the company you have invested in is doing well and continues to grow then your CGT free gain may accrue over a longer period.
The potential of realising a CGT free gain by subscribing in a successful EIS qualifying company can provide investors with an extremely valuable benefit.
3. EIS capital gains tax deferral relief
Capital Gains Tax Deferral Relief is available for qualifying UK investors who may have realised gains over the last 36 months, or are anticipating gains over the 12 months following investment.
Deferral relief is unlimited – this relief is not limited to investments of £1m per annum. Investors (individuals or trustees) whose interest in the company exceeds 30% may also claim Deferral Relief.
To qualify for Capital Gains Tax Deferral Relief, investors must be UK residents or in some circumstances it may be available to Trustees who are UK resident.
4. EIS loss relief against income or capital gains
Investing in private unlisted companies is a high risk / high return investment strategy and share values can also decrease.
If ordinary qualifying shares have been held in the company for the minimum period (3 years from the date of issue or 3 years from the commencement of trade whichever is later) then an allowable loss will arise if;
- EIS Income Tax Relief has been claimed but not withdrawn.
- Sold at a market value less than the original investment.
The loss can be set offset against;
- Capital gains generated in the tax year that the qualifying shares were sold or thereafter, OR
- Taxable income of the current or prior tax year.
Any additional losses would be carried forward and set against future capital gains.
If the shares were to become totally worthless, then EIS Loss Relief limits the exposure for an investor who is a 45% tax payer to 38.5 pence in the pound. Alternatively, the losses can be offset against Capital Gains at the prevailing rate.
5. EIS inheritance tax and business property relief
Inheritance Tax is charged at 40% on the value of an estate above the “nil-rate band” – an IHT free allowance that is £325,000 in 2016/17, with an additional £100,000 available if an estate includes a main home. Assets that are exempt from IHT – such as EIS investments – are therefore valuable.