Public Policy

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

Two years after proposing rules for equity crowdfunding, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved rules for entrepreneurs to raise up to $1 million per year from all investors.  The new U.S. crowdfunding market will officially start in late April or early May of 2016.  The SEC also proposed new rules to modernize crowdfunding within states for public comment during its October 30 meeting. 

Here’s the early “skinny” on the approved rules, noting that they are 686 pages (not a typo):

By Krista Tuomi, Associate Professor, American University

Entrepreneurs often explore a range of funding sources to expand and/or finance working capital, including ‘alternative’ ones such as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and invoice financing.  These have recently been enjoying media exposure, sometimes erroneously grouped in the same category as angels.  As with my previous blog post on bank loans, this table is supposed to give a rough idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each source.  Such information is useful when advising a firm, or considering investing in one which has already tapped this pool of money (and probably is paying dearly for it).

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

The Securities and Exchange Commission has recently provided three written statements that provide clarification and/or insight into their thinking on different aspects of general solicitation in Regulation D offerings.  I encourage angel investors and entrepreneurs alike to read these SEC materials and discuss them with your legal counsel.

Two of the writings are “Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations” (kind of FAQs) published on August 6 and the other is a “no action letter” written on August 3.  Let’s take a look at each, with my quick interpretation and then the actual language from the SEC:

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

I want to let you know about ACA's participation in the first ever White House Demo Day, which is focused on inclusive entrepreneurship.  There will be success stories about entrepreneurs from different geographies, ages, races and genders in an event this afternoon.  The press release explains more details. 

A part of the program is for private sector organizations to commit to growing inclusive entrepreneurship and ACA made a commitment that is mentioned about a quarter of the way into the document.  Our commitment is to do our first ever study on the demographics of angel investors and why they make investments to have a baseline of women and minorities as angel investors and to share best practices of investing. This study will begin this Fall and is supported by the John Huston Fund for Angel Professionalism

ACA is pleased to join small business advocacy associations in supporting the new Small Business Tax Compliance Relief Act, sponsored by US Senator David Vitter, of Louisiana.  Sen. Vitter, who chairs the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, aims to promote a fairer tax code for American small businesses and entrepreneurs and promoting US job growth.  The act includes 17 different tax and regulatory benefits for small businesses, covering health insurance, IRS regulations, and 409A deferred compensation packages, among other things.

By: Ken Kousky, BlueWater Angels and Krista Tuomi, American University

A number of public policy activities and initiatives that occur in American states are just as important to angel investors as federal-level issues.  The key state issues include tax credits for angel investments, matching co-investments by the state, grants and incentives to angel networks and even state-run venture and angel funds.  Knowing what works remains a critical challenge at both the state and national level requiring that we organize and support our interests in both arenas.

Our last blog post analyzed some international matching grants, highlighting in particular the well-designed New Zealand and Israeli programs. This blog examines four types of public offerings in the US. 

By: Ken Kousky, BlueWater Angels and Krista Tuomi, American University

The Angel Capital Association has played an important role in shaping the most vital public policy issues that affect angel investment practices ranging from the implementation of the JOBS Act to the definition and verification of accredited investors. While meetings with the SEC and Members of Congress have been vital for ACA members, political actions at the state level are just as important.

The key state issues include tax credits for angel investments, matching co-investments by the state, grants and incentives to angel networks and even state-run venture and angel funds.  Knowing what works remains a critical challenge at both the state and national level requiring that we organize and support our interests in both arenas.

By: Ken Kousky, BlueWater Angels and Krista Tuomi, American University

Angel tax credits are a common policy measure aimed at boosting startups. They are relatively simple and cost-effective for states, and can result in high quality job creation. Credits can also be more effective than a capital gains tax reduction in stimulating early stage companies, since investors get the credit up front whether the investment realizes a gain or not.[1]  Currently 27 states have some form of early stage capital tax credit, the mode being 25% of invested capital.[2] 

It appears that the credits do actually spur new investment as opposed to just rewarding existing investors.  In a report by the Minnesota Department of Revenue, 48% of surveyed angels would not have made their investment without a 25% credit and 34% would have invested less. The Minnesota figures are bolstered by a survey of angels, conducted by Tuomi and Boxer in 2014. In this survey, 69% of respondents claimed that the credit influenced them to invest in more firms or invest more money. Some of this private capital may be displaced from alternative investment in the state, but it is likely that much of this would have been otherwise placed in national capital markets.[3]

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

The SEC unanimously approved a new rule, dubbed “Reg A+,” on March 25th.  The rule allows companies to raise up to $50 million from the general public in unregistered public offerings, building on a part of the JOBS Act passed by Congress in 2012.  Issuers may begin using this rule in about 60 days.

Many ACA members have asked what Reg A+ means for angels and the early stage investing community, especially given some blogs and media stories with a wide variety of interpretations.  This post provides basics about the new rule, and ACA is following up with two activities:  a special breakfast briefing at the ACA Summit on the new rules, led by law firm Reed Smith and ACA’s policy advisory council of attorneys is preparing a deeper information piece for ACA members.

**This post originally appeared on "The Hill" on March 3, 2015.**

By: Chris McCannell, director of APCO Worldwide’s Washington DC financial service practice and government relations. He has over 15 years of Capitol Hill experience working for Members of Congress on the Financial Service Committee and the tax writing Ways and Means Committee. He and his colleagues have been ACA’s registered lobbyist for the past two and a half years. Chris is an active participant in ACA’s programming including national events like this week’s Leadership Workshop.

The conversation around implementation and rulemaking of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform legislation, which became law in 2010, has been focused on issues such as margin requirements for derivatives, bans on proprietary trading (the Volcker Rule) and other bank centric capital standards. Lost in the debate is a little known part of the legislation which requires the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revisit the definition of an accredited investor. A change in this industry wide definition could have drastic impact on capital formation, start-up growth, and ultimately American jobs.

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