Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI)

  • Written By: Cherry Reynard
  • Published: Mon, 01 Apr 2019 14:41 GMT

What is an EMI?

An EMI is a tax-advantaged share option scheme that gives smaller listed and privately-held companies a highly tax-efficient means of rewarding, incentivising and retaining qualifying employees. The main benefit of EMI is that employees may participate in share growth without incurring an income tax or national insurance liability and at advantageous capital gains tax rates. There may also be generous corporation tax deductions applicable for the employer.

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How does an EMI work?

A qualifying, broadly full-time, employee is awarded options over shares in the employing company (or parent company if a group). The option documentation will specify the exercise price and when the option may be exercised. It must also specify any performance or other conditions that must be satisfied before the option is exercisable.

When conditions are satisfied, the option can be exercised at the agreed price. The employee then owns the shares and is subject to capital gains tax when the shares are sold.

Requirement Limits
Maximum value of company’s gross assets £30 million
Maximum number of full-time employees 249 
Maximum value of options granted (company)  £3 million 
Maximum value of options granted (employee)  £250,000
Maximum employee’s material interest  30% of ordinary share capital
Minimum employee’s working time 25 hours per week/75% of working time
Exercise period Must be capable of being exercised < 10 years

Tax implications of EMI

The two examples below set out the income tax (IT), NIC and corporation tax (CT) position of the EMI options at exercise, and the capital gains tax (CGT) position at sale of shares. The treatment differs if the exercise price is lower than the share market value (MV) at the option grant date.

How we can help

  • Advising of scheme appropriate to meet company objectives;
  • drafting customised scheme rules that comply with the legislation;
  • preparing a tax memorandum and explanatory booklet if required;
  • obtaining advance assurance from HMRC on the qualifying status of the company;
  • obtaining HMRC agreement of the market value of shares at the award date; and
  • assisting with online registration and all HMRC reporting requirements.

By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of publication.

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