All companies operating employee share plans in which UK employees participate must register the share plans with HM Revenue and Customs by 6 July 2015.
Where UK employees participate in arrangements (such as share plans) under which they may acquire shares or other securities, the company operating those arrangements is required to make an annual filing to HM Revenue & Customs in respect of certain events, such as the grant or vesting of awards, under such arrangements. The filing is required to be made in respect of each tax year (6 April – 5 April), by 6 July following the end of the tax year in respect of which the filing is made.
To date, this filing has been made in hardcopy form. However, filings for the tax year ending 6 April 2015 and subsequently are required to be made through an online system.
In order to be able to submit filings using the online system, arrangements must first be registered. Therefore, in order for the annual filing to be able to be made by 6 July 2015, the relevant arrangements must be registered before that date.
In addition, any UK “tax-advantaged” share plans – Share Incentive Plans, Sharesave (SAYE) schemes and Company Share Option Plans (CSOPs) must also be self-certified as being in compliance with the relevant UK tax legislation. This self-certification is part of the online registration for these types of share plans, and must also be completed by 6 July 2015.
Failure to self-certify a UK tax-advantaged share plan (including tax-advantaged plans which operate over shares in a non-UK company) by 6 July 2015 can lead to a loss of the tax-advantaged status, which could prejudice the tax treatment of awards under the share plan and can lead to penalties being applied to the UK employing company.
Actions for employers
All companies operating employee share plans or similar arrangements in the UK (including those which operate over shares in a non-UK parent company) must ensure that the arrangements are registered with HMRC before 6 July 2015 (and this should now be done as soon as possible).
It is also vital that any “tax-advantaged” employee share plan operated in the UK (including “tax advantaged” schedules to any share plan adopted by a non-UK company) is self-certified as being in compliance with the relevant legislation before 6 July 2015.