Employee share schemes: Self-certification and the online filing of share scheme forms

The government has introduced significant changes to the administration of employee share schemes. Here's what you need to know if you're affected.

What are the changes?

The changes include:

  • Online filing for all share scheme forms from April 2015, including Share Incentive Plans (SIP) and unapproved arrangements and
  • Self-certification of Share Incentive Plans (SIPs), Save As You Earn (SAYE) schemes and Company Share Option Plans (CSOPs) from April 2014.

Registration of share schemes

The registration of share schemes with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) applicable from April 2014, is required in order to facilitate future online filing.

In order to register, the business will need to provide HMRC with basic information such as their company registration number and unique tax reference number. Once the business has registered, HMRC will provide a unique scheme reference number.


Employers will also need to self-certify their SIP, SAYE and CSOP scheme by confirming to HMRC that the scheme meets certain conditions. For existing schemes this must be done by July 6 2015 to ensure that they maintain their approved status. For new schemes, an employer must have registered and self certified the scheme no later than July 6 following the tax year during which the first share award or grant of option was made.

For a share scheme to qualify as a tax-favoured scheme, either:

  • The employer must have registered and self-certified the scheme no later than July 6 following the end of the relevant tax year in which the first grant or first award under the scheme has been made; or
  • The scheme must have previously been approved by HMRC.

Schemes only need to be registered once. However, HMRC must be notified of specific amendments to SIP, SAYE and CSOP scheme rules as part of the annual online return process.

Online submission of share scheme returns

Once the scheme has been registered, the employer will be able to file information online. HMRC will make annual returns available at the beginning of the relevant tax year, to enable businesses to prepare the form throughout the year; however, the returns can only be submitted after the end of the tax year. In line with the current regime for paper returns, the filing deadline is July 6 and penalties will apply if this deadline is not met.

When a share scheme ends, employers can notify online the date of the last reportable event. Information on that scheme will only then need to be submitted for the year in which the last reportable event falls, but not for any later years.

Enterprise management incentive notification

Looking specifically at the changes for an EMI scheme, from 6 April 2014, an employer must notify grants of EMI options to employees online. From this date, HMRC will no longer accept paper notifications. On each occasion, the notification could cover up to 30 employees and, if the grant is for more than 30 employee, then an additional form will be required.

As with the regime prior to April 2014, HMRC must be notified of the grant of EMI options within 92 days, in order for them to be qualifying options. The online service will not accept notifications outside the time limit without a reasonable excuse.


These are major changes for employers who have implemented employee share schemes. It is important that employers take action as early as possible to ensure that everything is in place in good time of the July 2015 deadline.

Paul Reynolds is an accountant at Haslers, a UK200Group member firm.

Further reading on employee share schemes

Paul Reynolds

Paul Reynolds

Paul Reynolds is an accountant at Haslers. He is an Associate of the Institute of Indirect Taxation (AIIT) and a Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA)

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