HMRC has recently published the latest employment-related securities bulletin and it addresses a number of important issues for employee share schemes arising from the COVID-19 crisis.

Some of the highlights are:

EMI Options and share valuations

HMRC will approve share valuations for a 90 day period, however if COVID-19 means that there is a delay in granting EMI options then that period will be extended (provided there have been no changes that may affect the share valuation).

Registering new share schemes and filing returns

6 July 2020 is the deadline for all share schemes filings and registrations in respect of the 2019/20 tax year. The bulletin confirms that this deadline is not being formally extended, but if difficulties are experienced as a result of COVID-19 then HMRC will consider this under the existing ‘reasonable excuse’ rules.

Furloughed employees (CSOP and EMI options)

HMRC have confirmed that an employee being furloughed under the CJRS does not affect the qualifying status of existing CSOP options. Frustratingly, the same concession has not (yet) been extended to furloughed employees holding EMI share options, however the bulletin does confirm that HMRC are continuing to look at wider COVID-19 related issues and the impact on EMI share options. It is hoped that the same sensible and pragmatic concession will be extended to furloughed EMI option holders in due course.