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The EMI (Enterprise Management Incentive) scheme is an ideal way to incentivise present and future key staff without paying premium salaries.
The EMI is a share scheme designed to assist ambitious small and medium companies reward its staff with a tax advantaged share option. This is a HMRC approved scheme which provides a number of benefits for the company and the employees, including: –
By implementing an EMI scheme, the employee is likely to be able to qualify for the 10% tax rate on a sale of the shares (by way of Entrepreneurs’ Relief) despite not holding at least 5% of the shares in the business. In addition, the 24-month qualifying ownership period for the 10% tax rate under the Entrepreneurs’ Relief runs from the date the options are granted (and not the date of exercise).
Therefore, it is now possible to qualify for the Entrepreneurs’ Relief 10% tax rate on a sale of shares by granting share options under the EMI scheme over less than a 5% holding at least 24 months before a sale of the shares, with those share options being exercised just before the sale.
Generally, the following companies will qualify:
Certain industry sectors do not qualify, including financial services and property development.
How is the EMI scheme structured?
Companies can structure share options in many ways, for example, so the share options are only exercised when the business is sold. In addition, options will usually lapse on the termination of employment.
Will I lose control of my business by offering options?
No. You can determine the terms of the EMI scheme so that you retain full control. For example, the options need not give employees any voting or dividend rights. As noted above, the scheme could also be set up so that share options are only exercised when the business is sold, or when other criteria are met.