Normally at this time of year, we would be swamped with articles on the fast-approaching end of the tax year and the last minute solutions to tax planning conundrums. But this year, not so much.

No prizes for guessing what has grabbed all the headlines, overshadowing commercial imperatives at a time when much business has simply stopped. 

We thought we would never see a time when the government would offer to pay 80% of the wages of virtually anyone in the working population, so these are most certainly unpredictable times. But, an old quote has possibly never been more sadly fitting:  “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” 

In this sense, 5 April is still incredibly meaningful for those looking to shore up their finances and make the most of the tax breaks that are available. Of course, at a time of so much market fluctuation, with valuations dropping like a stone, investing for tax efficiency may be an unsettling proposition. But, particularly where EIS is concerned, there are some other factors to take into account:

  • While the government has said it won’t be able to save every business, its intention is clearly to have a really good go at it. That said, companies within EIS managers’ portfolios are likely to be getting additional support: EIS managers are often very experienced and hands on – helping small companies with their management, finances, investment runway, costs and business strategies.
  • EIS managers are used to having their fingers on the pulse in order to identify and take advantage of new opportunities and innovations – now will be no different 
  • EIS managers, like anyone in venture capital, expect some losers, but apply their stock picking experience to more than make up for that with big winners
  • EIS investee companies are often very lean and able to pivot activities quickly
  • EIS investments involve a minimum three year holding period and are generally unlisted, making them much less susceptible to market contagion and volatility and giving them time to ride out storms 
  • EIS income tax relief and loss relief limit any losses

While deployment of funds can take time in the EIS universe, if you hurry, there are still some EIS offers ready to deploy funds for the 2019/20 tax year.

And these offers don’t just disappear like Cinderella’s coach at midnight on 5 April. Funds deployed after 5 April 2020 can be carried back to the 2019/20 tax year to be applied to income tax liabilities incurred in that year. They can also be applied to the current tax year, perhaps to earnings later in the year when we get through the Coronavirus mayhem.

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