What are Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs)?
The Venture Capital Trust Scheme started on 6th April 1995 and was designed to encourage individuals to invest indirectly in a range of small, higher-risk trading companies whose shares and securities are not listed on a mainstream stock exchange, by investing through Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs).
VCTs are companies which are themselves listed on the London Stock Exchange and provide capital finance for small, expanding companies with the aim of making capital gains for investors. They are a tax efficient way to invest larger sums of money and are aimed at medium to high net worth private investors.
Investors with larger portfolios can invest up to £200,000 and receive tax relief on the investment.
VCT shares issued after 5 April 2000 need to be held for five years in order to retain the initial tax reliefs, but to obtain the full benefits of the investment vehicle, the shares should be held for as long as possible.
To retain Government approval as a VCT, trusts' income in their most recent accounting period must have been wholly or mainly from shares or securities. Throughout that period, at least 70% (by value) of its investments must have been 'qualifying holdings', that is shares or securities in companies which meet the conditions of the scheme.
It is important to note that new VCTs can receive provisional approval when they have not yet met the conditions but satisfy H.M. Revenue that they intend to meet them within the time allowed. In such cases conditions must be met for an accounting period beginning not more than three years after the date of provisional approval and must continue to be met for subsequent accounting periods. It is not unusual for fledgling VCTs to unwind after failing to find investment opportunities that meet these essential criteria.