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Changes to employee share schemes briefing to coalition MPs “well received”

Tuesday, 4 March 2014 | By Gavin Lower

Federal government MPs have been briefed by an employee share ownership lobby group about the need for changes to the tax treatment of share schemes that impact on the start-up sector.

 

Angela Perry, the chair of the Employee Ownership Australia & New Zealand group, briefed the Coalition’s backbench economic and finance policy committee this week on changes needed to the scheme.

 

The start-up sector has been calling for changes to regulations around employee share schemes, which tax options when they are awarded and before they are realised, arguing they limit their ability to hire and retain talent and are expensive and onerous to manage.

 

Perry told StartupSmart the briefing was “well received”.

 

“There was general consensus they were sound recommendations,” she says.

 

Perry says her group suggested a number of changes for employee share schemes, including reverting back to taxing options when they are exercised and a $5000 salary sacrifice cap be removed, forming a task force to implement changes and broader regulatory reform.

 

Federal government consultation on changes to regulations of employee share schemes for start-ups closed early last month.

 

The Liberal Party’s Tony Smith, who’s also the chair of the backbench economic committee, wrote in The Australian Financial Review this week that a “revolution” in employee share ownership in Australia is a vital ingredient to building an “enterprise and innovation” economy.

 

“Deeper and denser employee share ownership would kick-start our stalled start-up sector,” he wrote.

 

He says the entrepreneurial nature of start-ups means that because risk is high and cash flow is low, a start-up company’s capacity to pay high salaries is limited.

 

“Offering a share in the future success of the enterprise is vital in attracting the top talent that may well deliver it.”

 

Smith also says “onerous” prospectus requirements should be simplified to lower costs and increase the attractiveness for employers to offer share plans.