Following on from our previous article around the expiry of State Aid for enterprise management incentive (“EMI”) options, on Tuesday 15 May, the EU Commission published their daily news bulletin which included the new State Aid approval for the grant of EMI options.
The EU press release can be found at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEX-18-3803_en.htm
What does this mean?
If you have delayed granting EMI options following HMRC’s announcement and the expiry of the previous approval on 6 April 2018, you can now continue to grant new EMI options which will benefit from the EMI tax-advantages.
While the EU Commission’s bulletin does not clearly state the date from which the new approval applies, and HMRC have not made an announcement as yet, the phrasing of the ‘prolongation’ of the approval would suggest that any EMI options granted between 7 April and 15 May 2018 (and notified to HMRC within 92 days from the date of grant) should benefit from EMI tax-advantaged status. Hopefully HMRC will confirm the status of such options soon.
While HM Treasury stated in the 2017 Spring Budget that it would seek timely State Aid approval to extend the provision of EMI, it appears from the EU press release that the new approval was only applied for in March 2018. Given this short timeframe of around two months, the EU Commission has very helpfully made its decision quickly.
It is worth mentioning that this new approval is without prejudice to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and only applies until the UK ceases to be part of the EU. From Brexit day (which is scheduled to be 11pm UK time on 29 March 2019) onwards, the EU State Aid rules may no longer apply to the UK and no indication has been given by HMRC as to the future of EMI at that time. So carry on granting for the next 10 months and 8 days!