This week the UK Treasury published the results and conclusions of the public consultation on whether to extend the list of ISA-eligible investments to include crowdfunded debt securities and equity. As a result, the Treasury has decided that debt securities made available via crowdfunding platforms will be eligible for ISAs, while for online equity investments the authority opted to keep working with sector’s stakeholders to further explore this possibility.
Therefore, a consultation on ISAs for crowdfunded debt and equity securities was launched back in March and saw the participation of several actors active in the sector. In particular, respondents were invited to provide insights on whether crowdfunding investments respect the following principles:
- are consistent with ISA’s reputation as a trusted savings brand
- protect the consumer
- support a sustainable tax system
- are simple to administer.
In general, although many respondents did not see many differences between crowdfunded equity and debt securities and believed that the current legislation, requiring registration with FCA, is strong enough to guarantee a sustainable development of the sector, several others thought that equity crowdfunding poses higher risks than online lending. The main justification was that the equity crowdfunding market tends to cater for riskier businesses and is less likely to provide individuals with regular returns on their investment.
Despite this, many ot the platforms which responded to the consultation declared to be in favor of ISAs to be extended to crowdfunding equity investments, because the existing tax incentives, namely EIS and Seed EIS, are deemed not sufficient as they cannot be applied to many fundraising businesses and especially the more established ones remain cut out.
Nevertheless, the UK Treasury concluded that it prefers to wait that the equity crowdfunding market matures further, while closely collaborating with the interested parties to explore the possibility of introducing ISAs for crowdfunded equity investments. With regards to debt securities, instead, the Treasury stated that it will legislate in autumn 2016 to allow certain debt securities issued by companies and offered via a crowdfunding platform to be held the ISA.
This is certainly a big step for the UK crowdfunding sector and once again a strong signal of the local government’s intention to support it.
HM Treasury. 2015. ISA qualifying investments: response to the consultation on whether to include investment based crowdfunding
About the author - Irene Tordera
Born and raised in Milan, Italy, Irene is an International Business graduate, with a strong interest for innovative ideas that can simplify our lives.
During her studies, she co-founded an online community for sportspeople and worked in marketing positions at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising and at the European Business Angel Network, in Brussels. She is a passionate blogger about crowdfunding and the startup ecosystem and she works also for the European Crowdfunding Network.