VCTs (Venture Capital Trusts)

Quick facts

A venture capital trust (VCT) is a listed company that has been approved by HMRC to invest in – or lend money to – unlisted companies. It’s one of four government schemes designed to encourage individual investors to put money into high-growth businesses. See also Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR).
A Venture Capital Trust (VCT) is a listed company (i.e. a company whose shares are traded on the London stock market), which aims to make money by investing in smaller unlisted businesses.

A VCT is run by a fund manager who provides private investors with a tax-efficient means of investing in high-growth companies, under Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) rules. Investors buy shares in a VCT and thereby get access to a basket of small businesses. They can invest by subscribing to new shares when a trust is launched or by buying shares from other investors after the trust has been established.

Your business might be eligible for VCT investment (along with advice and support) if:

  • you have no more than £15m in gross assets
  • you have no more than 250 employees
  • it’s been less than seven years since your first commercial sale

From your investors’ standpoint, the tax benefits include:

  • income tax relief when they invest in newly-issued VCT shares (30% on investments of up to £200,000 per tax year), as long as they keep the shares for five years
  • capital gains tax relief on profits from selling VCT shares, no matter how short a period they held them, provided the company maintains its VCT status
  • no income tax on dividends from the VCT

VCTs are one of four government schemes that incentivise individual investors into put money into small companies with high potential for growth, with the wider goal of creating jobs and supporting economic growth.

Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) – The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) is a government tax-relief scheme that incentivises private individuals to invest in early-stage businesses. EIS allows an individual to invest up to £1m per tax year and get a 30% tax break. Any single business can raise up to £12m in EIS funding in its lifetime.
Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) – The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) is a government tax-relief scheme that incentivises private individuals to invest in very early-stage (i.e. seed) businesses. This scheme allows any individual to invest up to £100,000 every tax year and receive a 50% tax break. Any business can raise a maximum of £150,000 in SEIS funding in its lifetime. 
Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) – Social investment tax relief (SITR) is a government scheme that incentivises private investment in social enterprises (i.e. businesses that generate a positive social impact). The rules for both investor and social enterprise are similar to those for Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS).

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