How Long Does It Take To Get SEIS And EIS Advance Assurance?

Posted by on May 13th, 2019  |  Last modified on Oct 21st, 2019

Last updated on October 21st, 2019 at 12:41 pm

It used to take around four weeks from the date of submission to hear back from HMRC once an SEIS/EIS advance assurance application had been submitted. However, towards the end of July 2019 we were informed that it is now HMRC’s policy to take at least / around 45 working days before responding to an advance assurance application. We feel that this increased length of time is partly due to the new level of subjectivity and HMRC discretion introduced by the ‘risk to capital condition’ in 2018.

Despite this, since being informed of the change in policy we have still seen some advance assurance and compliance statement applications being accepted in less time, the record so far being 10 days (7 working days) from submission. Such a fast turnaround is becoming more usual since HMRC introduced their compulsory SEIS and EIS checklists in October 2019 (which if completed correctly presumably make HMRC’s job easier). 

On receipt, HMRC will either accept your application, ask some further questions or reject it outright. Given that a company can only apply for advance assurance once its important to submit the best application you can and if at all possible to get an experienced professional to assist.

If you produce a good application and provide all the right supporting information then for the more straightforward cases we sometimes see advance assurance being received more quickly. However this may have more to do with HMRC happening to experience fewer applications made at the time the application was submitted.

For complex applications a longer wait should be expected. This is likely where, for example, there are some grey areas around whether your business meets the qualifying criteria, you are making the argument that the seven year EIS basic age condition is not applicable (perhaps because you are entering a new product and/or geographic market) or you are seeking to also qualify as a Knowledge Intensive Company.

The longer wait will usually mean that a senior tax inspector will also need to review the application. When HMRC eventually respond it is not unusual in such cases for them to ask a series of questions which sometimes require detailed answers to be made (despite our best efforts to reduce the likelihood of this happening). Once this further information is submitted we usually have to wait at least another two weeks for HMRC to (fingers crossed) confirm SEIS/EIS advance assurance.

Our team currently advise on, prepare and submit around 100 SEIS and EIS advance assurance applications and compliance statement submissions every year. If you would like further information a good place to start is our top ranking blog post on how to apply for SEIS and EIS advance assurance.

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Jonathan is a specialist business law solicitor who has been practising for over 14 years, starting at the top international City firms, before then working at smaller practices and since 2013 for himself.

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