With the end of the 2014-15 tax year behind us, the deadline for submitting share plan annual returns is fast approaching. Companies that operate share schemes are required to file annual returns online with HMRC for the 2014-15 tax year by 6 July 2015.

To be able to meet the deadline, companies must have completed the registration process with HMRC well in advance, and be ready to submit the data in the correct format (see further below).

Urgent reminder to register schemes

Companies are reminded that they must register their share schemes (both tax-advantaged and non-tax advantaged) online with HMRC well in advance of 6 July 2015, as it can take some weeks for the registrations to be completed.  Further details of the new registration requirement (and, for tax-advantaged schemes, self-certification) were included in our previous client alert, which can be accessed here.

New annual return templates

The new templates for the annual returns, along with guidance from HMRC, can be accessed here.  The template "Other employment-related schemes and securities arrangements" (previously known as Form 42) must be completed for non-tax advantaged schemes. Each tax-advantaged scheme has its own annual return.

Unlike in previous years, the templates must be uploaded in ODF format and submitted to HMRC online - HMRC will no longer accept paper returns. The returns can only be submitted online (via the 'Employment-Related Securities' section of HMRC's PAYE Online Services) once the companies have registered their schemes online with HMRC. 

Preparing the templates

Companies are strongly advised to:

  • start completing the current versions of the templates as soon as possible and earlier than in previous years, as they are expected to take longer to complete and require more information than previously; and
  • use HMRC's free automated checking service regularly as they complete the templates, in order to identify and correct any formatting errors at an early stage.  The templates are extremely format sensitive and will be rejected by HMRC's system if they are not in the correct format. 

The checking service is available through the 'Employment-Related Securities' section of HMRC's online portal, through "View my schemes and arrangements".