May 13, 2024

The Benefits of SEIS and EIS for Investors: Tax Advantages Explained


Tax planning can feel like navigating a labyrinth, but for savvy investors in the UK, there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Two such gems are the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). 

These government-backed initiatives offer a treasure trove of tax reliefs designed to incentivise investment in early-stage businesses.

Understanding these tax breaks can be the key to unlocking significant financial benefits. 

If you’re an investor looking for tax reliefs to support your brave venture, then this blog post would be a delight.

Buckle up, let’s go!

What are SEIS and EIS?

Both SEIS and EIS are designed to help small and early-stage companies raise equity finance by offering tax relief to individual investors. 

SEIS, or the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, targets initial-stage companies, whereas EIS is geared towards slightly larger and more mature enterprises.

Understanding these schemes is crucial for anyone looking to invest in the UK’s vibrant startup ecosystem.

Objectives of the SEIS and EIS Schemes

The primary goal of these schemes is to stimulate economic growth by encouraging investments into promising but risky small-scale businesses that might otherwise struggle to secure financing.

By reducing the financial risk through generous tax incentives, the government aims to make these investments appealing to a broader range of investors.

How to Qualify for SEIS and EIS?

To qualify for SEIS or EIS, both investors and the companies they invest in must meet specific conditions set by HMRC.

For investors, this includes being a UK taxpayer and holding the shares for a minimum period. Companies, on the other hand, need to carry out a qualifying trade in the UK, among other requirements.

Qualifying for SEIS:

  • The company must be a trading company less than two years old.
  • Gross assets must be under £200,000.
  • Less than 25 employees.
  • Must not have previously raised investment under EIS.

Qualifying for EIS:

  • The company must be a trading company less than seven years old.
  • Gross assets must be under £15 million.
  • Less than 250 employees.

Investor Qualifications for SEIS and EIS

Individual investors need to ensure their investment adheres to the annual investment limit and that the company they invest in uses the capital for qualifying business activities.

Investors for both SEIS and EIS need to be UK resident taxpayers. 

There are also minimum investment amounts and holding periods to qualify for tax reliefs.

It’s also vital that investors do not have a substantial interest in the company prior to the investment.

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

What are the Tax Benefits of Investing in SEIS and EIS?

Investing in SEIS and EIS not only supports UK startups but also offers attractive tax benefits to the investor. 

These include income tax relief, capital gains tax exemption, and the possibility to claim loss relief if the company fails.

SEIS Tax Relief and EIS Tax Relief

SEIS tax relief allows investors to claim up to 50% of their investment back as income tax relief, up to an annual investment limit of £100,000. 

EIS tax relief offers a 30% tax relief for investments up to £1 million per tax year. 

These incentives significantly reduce the effective cost of the investment and the risk involved.

Additional Benefits: Capital Gains Tax and Loss Relief

If the shares are held for at least three years, any gains are exempt from capital gains tax. Moreover, if the investment loses value, the investor can claim loss relief against their income or capital gains, further mitigating financial risk.

How Can Investors Claim SEIS Tax Relief?

The process of claiming SEIS tax relief is straightforward but requires attention to detail to ensure eligibility and compliance.

Investors can receive up to £50,000 income tax relief per tax year for investments up to £100,000. This tax break is immediate and can be carried back to the previous tax year to maximise the benefit.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Claim SEIS Tax Relief

  1. Invest in a Qualifying Company: Ensure the company meets the conditions set out by the SEIS criteria.
  2. Hold the Investment: Keep your investment in the SEIS shares for a minimum of three years.
  3. File Your Tax Return: Report your investment on your Self-Assessment tax return to claim SEIS tax relief.
  4. Receive Your Tax Reduction: Up to 50% of the amount invested can be claimed back as income tax relief.
EIS Tax Relief

What is EIS Tax Relief and How to Claim It?

EIS tax relief is similar to SEIS but designed for larger investments and slightly older companies that still fall under the banner of small enterprises.

Investors can claim up to 30% income tax relief on investments up to £1 million each tax year, potentially reducing their income tax bill by up to £300,000 annually.

How to Claim Income Tax Relief Under EIS

  1. Confirm the EIS Status of the Company: The company must have EIS-qualifying company status.
  2. Invest and Hold: Investments must be held for at least three years.
  3. Claim on Your Tax Return: Like SEIS, the relief is claimed via your Self-Assessment tax return.
  4. Utilise Carry Back: Investors have the option to 'carry back' the relief to the previous tax year.

What are the Advantages of SEIS and EIS for Capital Gains Tax?

SEIS and EIS offer significant benefits for capital gains tax (CGT), making them highly attractive for investors looking to reduce their tax bills further.

SEIS and Capital Gains Tax Benefits

SEIS provides a capital gains tax exemption on gains made from the sale of shares after three years. Additionally, investors can reinvest gains from other assets into a SEIS and receive a 50% CGT exemption on those reinvested gains.

EIS and Capital Gains Tax Exemption and Deferral Relief

EIS shares are exempt from capital gains tax after three years, similar to SEIS. Moreover, EIS allows for deferral of CGT on gains realised from other assets when the amount is reinvested into qualifying EIS shares, with no upper limit on the investment.

Understanding Loss Relief in SEIS and EIS Investments

Loss relief plays a critical role in the appeal of SEIS and EIS investments, offering a safety net that can cushion financial impacts should an investment underperform.

Explanation of Loss Relief in SEIS and EIS

When an SEIS or EIS investment fails, investors can claim loss relief, which allows them to offset a portion of the loss against their income tax bill or capital gains tax.

This not only reduces the overall risk but also enhances the attractiveness of investing in startups and small enterprises.

Examples of How Loss Relief Works for Investors

For instance, if an investor faces a loss on their EIS shares, they can claim loss relief equal to their income tax rate on the amount lost, minus any income tax relief already received. 

This effectively lowers the net loss and provides a significant tax advantage.

Investment Opportunities: SEIS Shares and EIS Shares

When we explore SEIS and EIS shares we discover opportunities that cater to different levels of risk and investment sizes, making them suitable for a wide range of investors.

Overview of Investment Opportunities Through SEIS Shares and EIS Shares

SEIS shares are ideal for those looking to invest in very small companies with potentially high growth trajectories, while EIS shares cater to slightly larger, more established businesses.

Both offer generous tax breaks, but SEIS is particularly beneficial for those able to tolerate higher risk.

Comparing Benefits Between SEIS and EIS Investments

While both schemes offer 50% loss relief, SEIS provides a higher rate of income tax relief at 50% compared to 30% for EIS. Additionally, SEIS offers a capital gains tax exemption on gains reinvested in qualified shares.

Best Tax Consultant in UK
Best Tax Consultant in UK

Real-World Examples of Tax Relief Benefits From SEIS and EIS Investments

Many success stories revolve around investors who have significantly reduced their tax liabilities through strategic investments in EIS and SEIS. 

These case studies often highlight not only tax savings but also the roles investors play in driving innovation and entrepreneurship in the UK.

The real-world impact of these schemes can be best understood through examples that highlight the tax benefits they have brought to individual investors.

One notable example involves an investor who allocated £20,000 to a SEIS-qualifying company, claiming an immediate £10,000 income tax relief. Despite the company’s later failure, the investor claimed loss relief that effectively reduced the net loss to a fraction of the initial investment.


SEIS and EIS are not just investment schemes but are essential tools for savvy investors looking to optimise their tax positions while supporting UK entrepreneurship. 

These schemes offer a blend of attractive tax incentives and investment opportunities in high-potential companies.

Encouragement to Explore These Schemes for Investment and Tax Planning

For any investor aiming to maximise their returns while minimising risks, exploring SEIS and EIS should be a top consideration.

Not only do these schemes offer significant tax relief, but they also embody the spirit of enterprise and innovation that drives the UK’s economic growth.

Meet Omar

Omar is a Chartered Tax Advisor (a.k.a an expert on tax issues) and founder of ASWATAX. He regularly shares his knowledge and best advice here in his blog and on other channels such as LinkedIn.
Book a call today to learn more about what Omar and ASWATAX can do for you.

Back to blog