Pre-Budget statement: More tax relief for share options

Gordon Brown today said he was looking ‘to create the perfect environment for e-commerce’ and reduce burdens on employers, but it is feared continued changes could lead to confusion among accountants, employees and employers.

It was announced today that the government would introduce legislation ‘at the earliest opportunity to limit the amount of the NIC payable on options granted between 6 April 1999 and 19 May 2000’.

Brown added the liability will be limited to the gain attributable to the growth in company share price up to 7 November 2000.

Experts believe further consultation among companies will take place. Companies such as QXL and have bitterly complained over the NIC treatment in recent months.

Alastair Kendrick, tax director at Ernst & Young, said: ‘This announcement makes life more difficult for those like me to calculate and advice clients on the NIC relating to their share schemes.

He added: ‘It will not just affect employees but also employers. It is now a case we must carefully watch the dates of grants and exercise. This announcement will further complicate the area and I look forward to seeing what will come through in the new legislation in the hope it will make life easier’.

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