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HMRC internal manual

International Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Transfer pricing: Types of transactions: share options: summary of treatment

Treatment of equity settled transactions

If the Provider of the share plan facility (see INTM440210) is the company whose shares are being used in the plan, typically, there are two elements comprised in the facility being provided:

  • An element that is the provision to the employees of the Employer of shares or share options. Any payment for this element will usually have to be taken to reserves in the Provider’s accounts. If so, this amount will not appear in the Provider’s profit and loss account or need to be included in the Provider’s tax calculation (this is referred to below as the ‘Share Award’); and
  • An element that comprises administration services involved in the operation of the share plan. Any payment for this element should be reflected in the taxable income of the Provider (this element is referred to below as the ‘Administration Services’).

Where a payment from the Employer to the Provider is imputed under transfer pricing rules, the tax treatment of the imputed receipt is exactly the same as that of an actual receipt.

The value of the whole facility for transfer pricing purposes should reflect what the Provider would expect to receive for providing the overall facility to a third party and what the Employer would expect to pay to obtain the facility from a third party. Looking at each element:

  • A company providing a Share based payment for a third party would expect to receive the value of the share awards (eg share options) provided, and the Employer would expect to have to pay that amount to a third party, and;
  • A company providing share plan administration services would expect to charge an arm’s length price for these services, and the Employer would expect to pay that price to obtain such services.

In general terms, the value of a facility as a whole may differ from the sum of the values of its parts. However in this particular case there is no reason why the Provider would expect to receive more or less than the sum of the value of the Share Award and the Administration Services provided, or why the Employer would expect to pay more or less than this amount. (Note: “value” is not the same as cost; for example, typically, the value of the administration services will be their cost plus a profit margin.)

The corporate tax deductibility of costs incurred by the Provider in providing the share incentive plan will fall to be considered under the normal corporation tax rules. The costs relating to administration services elements will normally be an allowable deduction and FA03/Sch23 does not affect this.

The allowable amount for transfer pricing purposes would follow the OECD Guidelines on intra-group services, and the appropriate transfer pricing method should be used.

FA03/Sch23 sets out how relief is given for tax purposes for the costs of providing the shares. FA03/Sch23 sets out who can claim the relief, the period in which relief will be available and the amount of the relief.

In a group situation it will normally be the Employer who will be able to claim (in its CT computation) any statutory deduction available under FA03/Sch23.

If the Employer obtains a tax deduction (whether in the UK or abroad) for a payment that is out of line with this guidance (eg if the Employer a makes a payment in excess of the fair value of options at the time of grant, or without adjustment to reflect the outcome of vesting conditions), then the potential application of the arbitrage receipts rule in FA(No.2)2005/S26 should be considered (see INTM595500 onwards).

Accountancy background: Changes from 1 Jan 2005

Financial Reporting Standard 20 (IFRS2) “Share-Based Payment” was issued by the Accounting Standards Board in April 2004. Reporting entities are required to apply it for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2005 (for listed companies) or 1 January 2006 (for unlisted entities).

In implementing this guidance companies should consider the actual accounting requirements relevant to their accounts in the particular year concerned. (Although the reference in paragraph 20 to using Appendix B of FRS20 as a basis for valuing awards is relevant whether or not a company is required to apply FRS20.)

Under FRS20 the reporting entity will typically measure the value of the services received in return for share-based payment by reference to the “fair value” of the share-based payment calculated using Appendix B of FRS20.

When applying transfer pricing rules, if it becomes necessary to calculate the value of the Share Award component of the overall facility provided to the Employer then the approach set out in Appendix B of FRS20 should be used for this purpose also (but see paragraphs 24 and 25 below).