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We have breadth and depth of experience with SEIS and EIS matters and therefore know how to resolve the most common and uncommon issues that may arise during the process of applying for SEIS/EIS.
We have a genuine passion for entrepreneurship and we love to help businesses grow and succeed.
It is advisable that early-stage companies place importance on attaining SEIS / EIS for their company’s growth.
Why? Because their investors do.
Entrepreneurs are often ‘selling’ their shares to investors so it is crucial that these shares are made as attractive as possible.
Experienced investors are provided with lower risks when investing in newer companies along with a series of benefits that are sure to make a company’s shares far more desirable.
When investors purchase SEIS-qualified shares, they’re acquiring entitlement to several tax reliefs. The shares are 50% exempt from income tax, 50% exempt from capital gain re-investment tax, entirely exempt from capital gains and entirely exempt from inheritance tax (provided that the investment is held for a minimum of two years at time of death).
Investors who purchase EIS-qualified shares, can enjoy 30% less income tax and the same inheritance tax exemption as SEIS. If their investment in EIS goes well; they can enjoy a complete exemption from capital gains tax and, if it doesn’t, they are able to offset losses against income or capital gains tax.
The above tax reliefs can have a significant effect on investors’ willingness to purchase shares in your company, resulting in more successful and bountiful investment rounds.
As experienced investors are drawn to SEIS / EIS qualifying shares, seed-stage companies will benefit from the mentorship and non-monetary support such investors may offer. These non-monetary benefits include: general advice, industry knowledge and possible access to investors’ contacts for networking purposes.
Seed-stage companies can raise a maximum of £100,000 per year which in the majority of cases proves sufficient to get a business up and running and able to provide some proof points before needing to raise again. This is extended to a maximum of £150,000 during a company’s lifetime.
Conversely, EIS offers a maximum of £5 million per year and a maximum of £12 million in a company’s lifetime. Should your company be considered a Knowledge Intensive Company, you are able to double the yearly maximum to £10 million per year and enjoy a maximum of £20 million of investment in your company’s lifetime.
Along with the available funds, SEIS / EIS often raises the profile of your company amongst the investment community. This increases the potential to raise more capital through further rounds of fundraising; having a significant effect on your company’s future.
We have breadth and depth of experience whether you are looking to apply for SEIS and EIS or other matters and therefore know how to resolve the most common and uncommon issues that may arise during the process.
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Our SEIS/EIS experts currently submit between 5 and 10 SEIS/EIS advance assurance applications each month and we are proud of our 99% annual successful rate compared to 64% industry average.
We are experienced in resolving both common and uncommon issues that arise and ensuring the information is presented to HMRC in the right way and persuasive arguments are made which reference the relevant parts of HMRC’s own guidelines.
Our work involves advising on meeting the qualifying criteria and how to deal with any unusual factors, ensuring we have all relevant information from you to make the application, filling in the relevant form, completing HMRC’s new questionnaire (effective from October 2019), commenting on the supporting documents such as the business plan (and recommending changes where necessary) and drafting a comprehensive covering letter to go with the application so that HMRC are likely to approve it first time round without turning it down or coming back with further questions.
We are a firm of solicitors who focus on advising entrepreneurs, senior managers and investors in respect of their SEIS and EIS matters. We work with clients throughout the UK and around the world, adopting a tailored, pragmatic and clear approach to each matter we take on.
Having advised many clients on numerous SEIS and EIS applications, we are pleased to announce that in 2020 we were successful in receiving approvals from HMRC on 100% of our applications.
Our experienced and knowledgeable team offers you fast and efficient service throughout the process.
We provide rigorous and thorough reviews of your business plan and financial forecasts to ensure there are no “slip-ups” or issues with HMRC’s guidance manuals and to ensure your company’s best possible success for approval.
We are always able to respond to any queries you may have promptly and coherently and will always update you on our progress throughout the process.
We understand that fees can be a sensitive and stressful issue, especially for start-ups and small companies. We are able to offer competitive fees for all our SEIS / EIS services from as little as £500 plus VAT for straightforward matters.
Irrespective of the fee that you pay, all our matters are given the quality care, attention and priority it needs from our experienced and professional junior and senior team members. We will only take on your matter and charge you if we believe there is a realistic chance of success and we will provide you with honest and open advice on whether this is the case before you instruct us.
We are always transparent and open about our fees and we never exceed our fees without first giving you plenty of notice and receiving your written consent, so you can rest assured you will not be hit with a surprisingly large bill for our fees.
These pricing structures are guides only and it will be important to have an initial introductory call with one of our fee earners at the firm who will be able to determine what category any application falls under.
We regularly provide assistance with SEIS and EIS applications for varying types of companies, covering a wide range of sectors including fintech, hospitality, film production, food and drink, knowledge intensive companies, manufacturing, construction, pharmaceuticals, retail and gaming.
We are not a simply platform, we are a full-service law firm able to facilitate your application and assist you at every stage of the SEIS and EIS process.
We advise on and prepare a detailed cover letter to show to HMRC how the Company meets all the necessary criteria, such as the risk to capital condition and the financial health requirement.
As part of our remit, we will also review all documents that you supply to us (e.g. your business plan / pitch deck) to ensure that there is nothing within those documents that could potentially cause issues from HMRC’s perspective. In addition, we will complete the advance assurance application form and the recently introduced SEIS and EIS checklists.
The majority of the SEIS and EIS work is done by our trainee solicitors, who have extensive experience in this field. Where complex issues arise, senior solicitors with a vast range of corporate, commercial and tax experience will be consulted and tasked with reviewing the documentation where necessary.
This structure ensures that the work conducted in respect of SEIS and EIS applications is done so to the highest quality, utilising senior fee earners where necessary but also allowing us to keep our fees down by using junior fee earners, such as trainee solicitors.
You can find more information about our team here.
Naturally the time frames will vary depending on whether the necessary information is provided to us and done so in a timely manner. It usually takes us between one week to 10 days depending on the complexity of the application.
HMRC advises that they aim to respond 95% of correspondence within 40 working days of receipt of the application. We have however, built up a good working relationship with HMRC and have seen some applications approved within a few days of submission. The more complex the application, the more likely the time frame for response will increase.
The time cap is a cost-efficient way of charging, which allows us to split the work between junior and senior fee earners, without the total fee being disproportionately affected.
For example, a fixed fee of £500 plus VAT subject to a 4-hour time cap might operate like as follows: the junior fee earner, whose hourly rate is £160 plus VAT, may do three hours of billable work whilst the senior fee earner, whose hourly rate is £355 plus VAT, is limited to an hour of billable work. On the traditional time-incurred model the total fees accrued would be 3 hours x £160 plus VAT= £480 plus VAT, £480 + £355 (1 hour of a senior’s time) = £835 plus VAT, whereas on the capped fixed fee model this would still be £500 plus VAT.
Our vast experience with SEIS and EIS work means that we can be accurate when determining the fee and time cap. However, there are rare occasions where we may exceed the time cap, for example where many new points and queries are raised by you or there are additional complexities that we have not anticipated at the outset. In the unlikely event, that it looks like we may exceed the cap, we will always notify you when it is likely to reach the time-cap and then obtain your consent to exceed such time-cap before proceeding with the remaining work on a time-incurred basis in accordance with our hourly rates.
Most of the time we are able to predict when HMRC might respond with further questions to an SEIS and EIS application and if we do envision this occurring, we will highlight to you the areas that HMRC may raise questions about.
The first thing to remember when HMRC respond with further questions to an advance assurance application or compliance statement application, is that this is not a rejected application. Where HMRC ask further questions, it is usually to clarify points that they are unsure of and more often than not, after a round or two of questions and retorts we are able to successfully push through the application. However, please note that this usually causes delays in the process and it is recommended to discuss this with your investors so that you manage their expectations in respect to the timeline.
You can notify your investor(s) that you have received the relevant SEIS and / or EIS approvals in respect of their investments and that your company is ready to receive investment.
In order for your potential investor(s) to claim their SEIS / EIS tax reliefs, you must first raise the funds from the investor(s) by receiving the monies in your bank account and then issuing the shares to those investors. Please note that is a disqualifying event to issue shares before receiving the investment monies. Please refer to our blog article on Common SEIS and EIS Mistakes.
We often assist our clients with the legal areas involved in raising equity finance. Our work usually includes the following:
Following the completion of an investment round and provided that the company has either been trading for at least 4 months or has spent at least 70% of the monies raised by the relevant issue of shares, we assist the company in submitting to HMRC the SEIS 1 / EIS 1 compliance statement, following which HMRC will give the company authority to issue SEIS 3 / EIS 3 certificates to its investors. This is achieved by HMRC providing an authorisation number which will authorise the company to issue SEIS 3 / EIS 3 compliance certificates, which the investor(s) can in turn complete and submit to HMRC to claim their SEIS / EIS tax reliefs.
The Venture Capitalist Manuals (the official HMRC guidance in respect of SEIS and EIS) can be complicated to navigate and comprehend.
It is important that there are no smoking guns left in an application, that would give HMRC a reason to refuse an application on a technicality.
Also, please note that there is no formal appeals process for when an application is rejected. This means if an application is rejected, you could be left in a very sticky situation, especially if your investors have invested or are investing on the presumption that they would be receiving SEIS and EIS relief.