UK angel investment on hold ’til April?
On Tuesday, the Chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement to Parliament. It included the news that, following this summer’s Treasury consultation, a new Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) will be introduced next April, offering “50 per cent income tax relief on investments” and “a capital gains tax exemption on gains realised in 2012-13 and then invested through SEIS in the same year”. There will also be changes to the rules governing EIS and venture capital trusts.
I’m not going to regurgitate all the details here – you can read all about them in the Statement itself – but it’s clear to me that the new scheme will spark interest in angel investing amongst high net worth individuals (i.e. rich people) who might not otherwise have considered it and that can only be a good thing. From a personal perspective, I’m pleased that the government is enacting measures that will benefit startups across the whole of the UK, instead of just in one small region.
However, there’s one small problem – these measures don’t come into effect until 6th April 2012. We’ve got a whole four months between now and then, during which (a) any potential angel knows that a new, more favourable tax treatment of angel investments will be coming into effect in April, and (b) the old rules will still be in effect.
Since yesterday, I’ve been trying to figure out why an angel who will be able to take advantage of SEIS would choose to invest between now and April. I thought I was missing something but, if I am, nobody has yet enlightened me. In fact, Robin Klein is of the opinion that angels should wait, if they can. If they do, this raises the prospect that, for the next four months, very little, if any, angel investing will take place here in the UK. However, come April 6th, we’re likely to see a flurry of deals.
So, sit tight, batten down the hatches, tighten your belt and don’t book any holidays for the first week in April.