All of your employee share plans in which UK employees participate need to be registered with HM Revenue & Customs in advance of 6 July 2015 through an online system. If you have not yet registered your share plans, you should now do so without delay.
The registration requirement applies to all types of plans under which employees can receive shares, and applies whether the shares are in a UK company or a non-UK parent company.
As currently, annual share plan returns must be completed and filed with HMRC by 6 July following the end of the tax year being reported on (and so by 6 July 2015 for the tax year ending 5 April 2015). The filing for the tax year ending 5 April 2015, however, can only be completed online, and this first requires share plans to be registered. Registration is therefore required in advance of 6 July 2015 in order that the annual filing can be completed on time. Data must also be uploaded to the online system in specified formats, so if you have not yet begun preparing to submit an annual return for the tax year ending 5 April 2015 you should do so now without delay.
For SAYE (or "Sharesave") plans, Share Incentive Plans and Company Share Option Plans there is an additional requirement to self-certify the share plan as being in compliance with the applicable legislation, and this self-certification forms parts of the registration process for these types of share plans. Completing this process by 6 July 2015 is required in order to protect the tax-advantaged status of these plans. Failure to register these tax-advantaged share plans by 6 July 2015 may therefore lead to a loss of the tax-advantaged status and the imposition of penalties on the employing company.
Registration (and self-certification of tax-advantaged share plans) is an online process, which is completed through HMRC Online Services (click here) (and for companies that have not previously used the HMRC Online Services the initial log-in process can take a few days to complete). HMRC has sent information regarding the process to companies which HMRC is aware operate share plans - this information is reproduced in section 4 of the HMRC briefing which is available here, and additional FAQs are set out in section 4 of the HMRC briefing which is available here.
In respect of Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) arrangements, in addition to registering the arrangements, the notifications which are required to be made within 92 days of the date of grant of each option must also now be submitted online. Failure to notify within this period may lead to tax benefits being lost.