The Autumn Statement on 25 November 2015 did not contain any major changes to the taxation of employee share schemes for UK tax residents. The Chancellor outlined a number of areas affecting employee share schemes in which he will be introducing legislation, including:
- The taxation of internationally mobile employees - the government intends to introduce a number of technical changes designed to clarify the tax treatment of certain share awards held by internationally mobile employees. It is understood that the effect of the changes is to tax RSUs (where these are rights to acquire shares) and conditional share awards under the specific share option taxation regime, rather than under the general earnings regime. Further details are due to be published in the Finance Bill on 9 December 2015. This is likely to be a welcome change for employers operating employee share schemes.
- Disguised remuneration - the government intends to take action against those "who have not yet paid their fair share of tax". The impact of this on employee benefit trusts, if any, will need to be assessed once further details are released.
- Entrepreneurs' relief - the government is considering legislation to tackle contrived structures to ensure that the relief is available only for "certain genuine commercial transactions".
The Chancellor also announced in the Autumn Statement further action in the following areas:
- Salary sacrifice - the government intends to gather further evidence on the use of salary sacrifice arrangements in order to consider whether it should take any action to prevent these arrangements being used for tax avoidance purposes.
- Employment status - the government is taking forward the majority of recommendations from the OTS review.
The government has not yet published a response to the consultation on taxation of termination payments.
A full copy of the Autumn Statement can be found here.