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More and more companies now give their employees the opportunity to acquire company shares. If correctly structured, this can be a very tax efficient way of attracting and retaining staff, as they are able to share in the success of the company. However, if you get things wrong there can be significant tax charges on the employee and employer. As a general rule, if employees are allowed to acquire shares at less than market value, the discount is taxable as employment income and PAYE; national insurance may also be due. So for example, where the employee pays just £1 for a share worth £10, the £9 difference would be taxable.
The issue of shares to an employee also needs to be reported to HMRC using Form 42 by 6 July following the end of the tax year. There are a number of schemes that you may wish to consider where the receipt of the shares will not be taxed as employment income and in some cases will only be subject to capital gains tax when the shares are eventually sold. It used to be possible to ask HMRC for confirmation that the share scheme satisfied the rigid rules for the tax advantages to apply, but this is no longer possible and employers are now required to “self certify” that the share scheme complies with the legislation. We can assist you with this process if you would like to consider putting a share scheme in place.