TaxPersonal TaxPwC opposes share option plans

PwC opposes share option plans

PricewaterhouseCoopers has thrown its weight against proposals aimed at altering the controversial tax treatment of share options.

The firm’s objection follows July’s proposal by the G4+1 group of standard-setters for a charge against company profits for the fair value of shares and share options issued to employees.

The news comes just days before chancellor Gordon Brown is expected to announce improved tax breaks for employee share option schemes as part of his pre-Budget statement.

A number of dot.com companies including online auction site QXL have lobbied the government over the issue.

In its response to the plans, PwC said many issues needed to be resolved before it will be appropriate to develop an accounting standard along those lines.

Peter Holgate, PwC senior technical partner in the UK, said: ‘This is a very sensitive issue. Large amounts are involved. And the proposal comes at a time when there is a need for a wide-ranging debate about the reporting of performance.

‘Users of accounts, for instance, focus increasingly on cash-based earnings, and it is unclear how they would react to charges in respect of share schemes. Disclosure initially, followed by debate about reporting business performance and monitoring of the uses of the disclosed figures is the way forward’.

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