All posts in Federal Law & Regulation

Angels Descend on D.C.

angel investmentThe Angel Capital Association is hosting its annual summit two weeks from now in Washington, D.C. If you are interested at all in angel investing, I think this will be a great conference to attend.

(Disclosure: I am on the ACA’s Public Policy Advisory Council)

The folks at the ACA have been critical in helping positively influence public policy on angel investing in the last several years.

Just to give you one example that you may or may not recall, but the first iteration of Dodd-Frank would have re-set the “accredited investor” financial thresholds for inflation going all the way back to the 80’s. That proposal, if it had been enacted, would have wiped out literally 3/4ths of all angel investors. The second iteration of Dodd-Frank was worse—it would have required all Rule 506 offerings to first be submitted to the SEC for 120 days for review, and if the SEC didn’t review then states would have been given the chance to review before offerings could go forward.

But for the involvement of the ACA, and folks like Dan Rosen and Senator Maria Cantwell, these things could have happened. Being involved is important. The upcoming ACA summit will be a great way to get started, if you are looking for a way.

Now is a critical time for angel investing in America. The SEC is currently evaluating a number of different issues that will have a dramatic impact on angel investing, such as:

  • The definition of “accredited investor.” It is possible that the SEC will propose to modify this definition to “define out of the game” a huge swath of the population that currently qualifies as accredited. See the ACA’s letter to the SEC.
  • The proposed Regulation D and Form D rules, that will require advance filings of Forms D and onerous consequences to companies if they file to advance file before they “generally solicit” their offerings.

(If you want to see the former Chair of the ACA, Catherine Mott in action, read the transcript of this SEC open meeting in which she questioned the SEC on whether demo days constituted “general solicitation.”) 

Policy makers need the input of people who are active in the early stage company ecosystem.

“We are hosting this meeting in Washington, D.C. for a reason,” ACA’s Chair David Verill said. “The Securities and Exchange Commission is not only assessing the underlying definition of who can be an accredited investor, but is also reviewing significant rules around the JOBS Act involving general solicitation and online crowdfunding platforms. Now more than ever is the time to join with angel colleagues to learn about, to shape, and to nurture this powerful economic engine.”

2014 ACA Summit

Angel Impact: Entrepreneurial and Economic Success

March 26th – 28th

Review the Agenda

If you plan to attend, please let me know and I can try to connect you to friends who will be there.

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Crowdfunding: When Will the Rules Be Done?

Crowdfunding RulesThe startup community is getting excited and antsy.  The comment period on the SEC’s crowdfunding rules ended February 3.  The speculation has begun – when will the rules be final?  Could it be this summer?

My answer:  Who knows!

But to help us make some guesses, I have put together the below table.  The way I see it, we have two recent rule making projects from the SEC that provide us some guidance:  the bad actor rules and the rules repealing the ban on general solicitation.  Based on how long it took the SEC to issue the final rules in these two recent instances, I don’t think we are going to see final crowdfunding rules until late this year.  My guess: December 2014 or even early next year.

Crowdfunding Timeline Chart

(1) In the proposed rules, the SEC said that it was issuing them in light of comments received “and the magnitude of the change that the elimination of the prohibition against general solicitation represents to the Rule 506 market.”

Of course, I hope I am wrong and we see the final rules sooner.

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Is the QSB Stock Tax Exclusion Even Worth It?

QSB stock tax exclusion1In the throes of the end of last year, when people were trying to figure out whether to incorporate a C Corporation before year end to try to set themselves up to qualify for the Section 1202, qualified small business stock 100% exclusion from tax benefit (subject to a $10M cap), I heard the following claim made:

“You can only exclude 10x your basis in your stock. Thus, if you are a founder, and your basis in your stock is very, very low–the exclusion isn’t worth much.”

If the above statement was true, the Section 1202 exclusion for qualified small business stock would indeed not be much of a benefit for founders, who typically don’t have a large cost basis in their shares.

Most founders might pay just a few thousand dollars for their founder shares. If a founder paid $2,000 for his or her shares, and the most they could exclude from tax was 10x that, the exclusion would only shelter potentially up to $20,000 in income from tax.

If you could only exclude 10x your basis in your shares from tax, Section 1202 would indeed be a meager prize.

But is the above statement true?

No.

Section 1202 reads as follows:

(b) Per-issuer limitation on taxpayer’s eligible gain

(1) In general

If the taxpayer has eligible gain for the taxable year from 1 or more dispositions of stock issued by any corporation, the aggregate amount of such gain from dispositions of stock issued by such corporation which may be taken into account under subsection (a) for the taxable year shall not exceed the greater of—

(A) $10,000,000 reduced by the aggregate amount of eligible gain taken into account by the taxpayer under subsection (a) for prior taxable years and attributable to dispositions of stock issued by such corporation, or

(B) 10 times the aggregate adjusted bases of qualified small business stock issued by such corporation and disposed of by the taxpayer during the taxable year.

For purposes of subparagraph (B), the adjusted basis of any stock shall be determined without regard to any addition to basis after the date on which such stock was originally issued.

Thus, you get the greater of 10x or $10M. Rest assured founders, the benefit is ample if you qualify.

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