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HMRC internal manual

National Insurance Manual

Class 1 NICs: Employment - Related Securities: Shares - Share options

When an employer grants an employee a share option, that employee has a legal entitlement to acquire shares in accordance with the option rules. A share option will normally set out:

  • the number of shares the employee can buy
  • the price the employee will pay for each share
  • the dates from which, and by which, the employee must exercise the option and acquire the shares.

Share options may be granted at market value where the acquisition price is equivalent to the market value of the shares on the date of grant. Alternatively, an option may be granted at a discount where the acquisition price is below the market value of the shares on the date of grant.

Until 5 April 1999, a potential Class 1 NICs liability arose on the grant of a share option. The rules changed from 6 April 1999 and since then a Class 1 NICs liability arises when an option is exercised, assigned or released see NIM06825.