The new tax year will soon be upon us, bringing with it a number of changes to how, and how much, you are taxed.

But what are the changes, how do they affect you, and how can investing in EIS help to offset or reduce them?

Capital gains tax annual exempt amount

What’s changing?

Capital gains tax is payable whenever you sell an asset for a profit, once those gains surpass the annual exempt amount. The Chancellor's Autumn Statement in 2022 more than halved the annual exempt amount from £12,300 to £6,000.

From 6 April 2024 it will halve again to £3,000.

What does that mean for me?

It means that an ever greater proportion of any capital gain you make will be subject to tax and your overall profit from any disposal of assets will be lower. The assets liable for capital gains tax include most shares, property (excluding the house you live in), and possessions like cars, jewellery and so on. If you can sell it for profit, there’s a good chance it’s liable for capital gains tax, with some exceptions.

This is of particular significance for investors who profit from the sale of shares on a regular basis, as more of their profits will be taxed.

How does EIS help?

EIS gives investors several benefits around capital gains tax. The first one is disposal relief on shares held for at least three years. Any gain realised from the sale of shares in an EIS-eligible company are not subject to capital gains tax. So if you invested £10,000 in an EIS fund and one of the companies in your portfolio exited at a profit, leaving you shares worth £100,000, there would be no capital gains tax payable on that gain – £90,000 – when you sold them.

EIS investments also offer capital gains tax deferral relief. This allows investors to defer paying capital gains tax on the sale of any asset, as long as that gain is invested into an EIS-eligible company or fund. So if you had realised a £100,000 gain from the sale of an asset, then invested it in EIS, you could defer paying capital gains tax on that gain for as long as you held the EIS shares. On disposal of the shares, you could either pay the tax, or continue to defer it by acquiring additional EIS shares.

Capital gains tax residential property higher rate reduction cut from 28% to 24%

What's changing?

Capital gains tax on proceeds from the sale of residential property for additional or higher rate taxpayers saw its rate cut by 4%.

What does that mean for me?

Good news for those considering selling residential property, that said, it's not a huge cut, and 24% is still considerable.

How does EIS help?

You can defer paying that 24% by making an investment in EIS, as described above.

Dividend allowance

What’s changing?

Another from the 2022 Autumn Statement: the tax-free allowance for dividend tax halved last year, from £2,000 to £1,000.

From 6 April 2024 it will halve again to £500.

Dividend payments will be taxed at 7.5%, 32.5% and 38.1% for basic, higher and additional rate taxpayers respectively.

What does that mean for me?

It means that if you receive dividend payments from shares you hold they will become less profitable as a greater proportion will be subject to taxation. This might make certain investment strategies less attractive, for example, buying and holding shares in public companies in order to profit from dividend payments.

How does EIS help?

This one is covered by EIS income tax relief again. With 30% tax relief available, you can offset the additional tax you’ll pay on dividends.

Beyond the tax changes

Outside of the changes made to tax this year, there is the broader economic climate to consider. Many investors view EIS investing as an opportunity to diversify outside of investments in public companies, which can be a sensible long-term approach during a recession (see our article on this). EIS is a long term investment, taking at least five, and probably ten or more years to mature, and while small companies also feel the pain in a downturn, private markets are less subject to the fluctuations seen in the public markets. In many cases, smaller companies can manoeuvre through a downturn in ways larger companies cannot.

We haven’t even talked about the returns yet.

With so many tax reliefs available through EIS, it’s easy to forget that it also offers the potential for significant returns. This is largely because it is a high risk investment, many startups fail, and returns are never guaranteed.

But when they happen, they can return large multiples to investors. As a general target, most funds work to a 3x return estimate based on growth averages. But you might build a portfolio containing companies that hit 5x, 10x, even 100x or higher. Startup returns follow a power law distribution, which means that a small proportion of the total startup population accounts for the lion's share of returns. Many startups will fail, and many might show reasonable growth. But a small number will see exponential growth, becoming the unicorns of the future.

This potential, taken along with the tax reliefs, may make investing in EIS an attractive opportunity for some investors in today’s climate.

Where to start with EIS investing.

The most straightforward way to get started with EIS investing is to invest in an EIS fund. Funds will deploy your investment into individual companies, conduct the necessary due diligence, and build you a portfolio. You’ll receive EIS3 certificates after you’ve made your investment, and can use the information they provide to make your claim for tax relief. You can also invest into individual companies outside of a fund, but this can bring with it a more significant administrative burden, and you’ll need to conduct the appropriate due diligence on companies you choose to invest in.

The Access EIS Fund

Our fund co-invests with proven angel investors to build large portfolios of hand-picked companies for our investors. It’s a high risk investment, but we’re confident that our approach is the smartest on the market. Even better, we can show you the data to prove it.

To find out more about how the Access EIS Fund can work for you or your clients. Use the button below to schedule a call with our expert, Tom Britton.

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