Tax Glossary

Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)

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Last updated on:
March 17, 2024

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) stands out as a cornerstone for tax-efficient investing in the UK, offering substantial tax reliefs to individuals who invest in startups and early-stage businesses. By incentivising investment in higher-risk companies, the EIS not only aids in the growth of innovative ventures but also offers investors a way to potentially reduce their tax liabilities significantly.

Key Tax Reliefs Under EIS

  • Income Tax Relief: Investors can claim back 30% of the amount invested in EIS-eligible companies against their Income Tax liability, up to a limit of £1 million per tax year. This can increase to £2 million if at least £1 million is invested in knowledge-intensive companies.
  • Capital Gains Tax (CGT) Relief: No CGT is due on profits from the sale of EIS shares if held for a minimum of three years.
  • CGT Deferral Relief: CGT on gains realized on the sale of any asset can be deferred when the proceeds are reinvested in an EIS-eligible company.
  • Loss Relief: Should the EIS investment result in a loss, the investor can claim loss relief against their Income Tax or CGT, depending on their tax band (20%, 40%, or 45%).

How to Invest and Claim EIS Tax Reliefs

  1. Invest in EIS-Eligible Startups: Identify and invest in qualifying startups or early-stage businesses. It's crucial to ensure the companies meet HMRC's criteria for EIS eligibility.
  2. Claiming Relief Through Self Assessment: To claim your Income Tax relief, you'll need to complete a Self Assessment tax return. You should receive an EIS3 form from the company you've invested in, which will help you claim the relief.
  3. Register for Self Assessment if Necessary: If you usually pay your taxes through PAYE and have not previously needed to file a Self Assessment, you'll need to register by 5th October following the end of the tax year in which you made your investment.

Similar Tax Relief Schemes

The EIS is part of a suite of investment schemes designed to promote economic growth and innovation by facilitating investment into various sectors and stages of business:

  • Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS): Focused on very early-stage companies, offering even more generous tax reliefs.
  • Venture Capital Trusts (VCT): Investors buy shares in a publicly listed company (the VCT) that invests in a portfolio of small, unlisted companies.
  • Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR): Encourages investment in social enterprises and charities.
  • Community Investment Tax Relief (CITR): Supports investment in enterprises and community projects in under-invested areas.
  • Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs): Offers tax-free saving and investment up to a certain limit each year.


The EIS provides a dual benefit: supporting the UK's innovative startup ecosystem while offering attractive tax reliefs to investors. It represents a compelling option for those looking to diversify their investment portfolio with tax efficiency in mind. As with any investment, it's important to consider the associated risks and seek professional advice if needed.

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