The Call for Evidence closes on 26 May 2021, but with other consultations in the wider tax policy space expected later this month, it would be worth responding to this Call for Evidence sooner rather than later.
Following yesterday's Budget, there is now an opportunity to contribute to HM Treasury's Call for Evidence in relation to the Enterprise Management Incentive ('EMI') option arrangement. The EMI is the most tax efficient employee share option arrangement available in the UK and the tone of the Call for Evidence is broadly positive: it looks to 'review the Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI) scheme to ensure it provides support for high-growth companies to recruit and retain the best talent so they can scale up effectively, and examine whether more companies should be able to access the scheme'.
Not just for companies currently using EMI
We would urge all clients who have granted EMI options to consider responding to the Call for Evidence. However, the Call for Evidence is also important for companies who cannot currently use EMI. The Treasury are considering whether the scope of the scheme could be extended. Is the gross assets test of £30 million too low? Is the 250 employee test a problem? Does the £3 million limit on outstanding options cause issues, particularly if options are exit only? Is your industry excluded? If you have used EMI, but now cannot, then the Treasury want to understand if that is an issue for recruiting and retaining employees. If you cannot currently take advantage of EMI, how does that impact your ability to incentivise your employees?
Argue the case
As noted, the tone of the Call for Evidence is positive, but there needs to be a 'business case' for EMI. The more responses that can show that EMI helps retain and recruit employees in small and medium sized enterprises, the better the case for retaining or extending EMI and its tax advantages. Despite the positive words, this is not a given. Other changes, for example if Business Assets Disposal Relief, is reformed, may suggest that EMI individual limits should be extended to maintain the benefits of the scheme.
Add your voice
Fieldfisher's Equity Incentives team will be preparing its own response to the Call for Evidence. We would welcome your thoughts on the questions raised, so please do let us know what you think. However, the voice of business and entrepreneurs is primarily what the Treasury want to hear, so do please take the time to respond.
Click here to go to the Call for Evidence
The Call for Evidence is thankfully short and includes a list of 18 questions making it easy to structure your responses. Responses are then submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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