A Company Share Option Plan (CSOP) is a share option plan where a company can grant tax-free shares to an employee or a company director.
Usually, when your company pays you shares, you have to pay Income Tax and National Insurance on their market value. This is because they’re treated as extra income added onto your salary. These taxes also apply when you buy shares from your company at a price that’s lower than the market value; in this scenario, you simply pay tax on the difference.
However, if your company gives you shares that are part of a CSOP, you won’t pay any Income Tax or National Insurance on the difference between the “strike price” (this is the price you pay when you buy) and the market value at the time of purchase.
CSOPs are usually used by companies that are too big to qualify for an Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI).
There are a few things that are important to remember when it comes to being part of a CSOP:
Be aware that CSOPs are not totally tax-free – you may still need to pay Capital Gains Tax if you sell the shares and make a profit above the Capital Gains Tax Allowance. If this is the case, you’ll have to declare and pay tax on your profits. You can do this via a Self Assessment tax return.
Yes – you would then be a shareholder just the same as if you were an external body purchasing shares.
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