Feds delaying stock options tax changes
Changes to how employee stock options are taxed are being delayed to ensure that the new rules are “fair,” according to a Department of Finance statement released Thursday.
The federal government, which first announced the measure last March in the 2019 federal budget, is now looking to apply the tax changes only to “large, long-established, mature firms” and to exempt smaller-scale companies, according to the statement. It said the move to target mature companies exclusively is meant to prevent high-income individuals from disproportionately benefitting from tax deductions.
“The [g]overnment does not believe that employee stock options should be used as a tax-preferred method of compensation for executives of large, mature companies,” the statement reads.
Data from the 2017 taxation year revealed that individuals who earn more than $1,000,000 a year claimed an average of $577,000 from stock option deductions. That compares with an average of $44,000 for those who earned $200,000 to $1,000,000, and an average of $6,000 for those who earned under $200,000.
Startups will be exempted because they do not have significant profits and stock options help them attract talent, according to the statement.
“In these cases, employee stock options can be a helpful form of remuneration that is linked to the future success of the business. It is essential that these emerging businesses be able to continue to grow and expand.”
The federal government said it’s reviewing input from stakeholders received between June and September as part of its effort to determine what constitutes as “startup,” “emerging” and “scale-up” and which firms should be exempt from the changes.
Details about how the government intends to move forward with the measure, and when the new rules will come into force, will be announced in the next federal budget, according to the statement.