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Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003

Paragraph 5: Maximum entitlement of employee: financial limit on unexercised options

3468.This paragraph derives from paragraph 10(1) to (3) and (6) to (8) of Schedule 14 to FA 2000 and sets out a limit of £100,000 on the value of shares in respect of which “unexercised qualifying options” are held by each individual employee. If the grant of an option causes this limit to be exceeded, then the option does not qualify under EMI so far as it relates to that excess. If the limit is already exceeded at the time that further options are granted, those further options do not qualify.

3469.There is no guidance in the legislation on the tax treatment when an option, that includes a qualifying element and a non-qualifying element, is partially exercised. The option agreement itself may provide guidance on this. Otherwise, in practice, the person exercising the option will be able to decide which part of the option was exercised, enabling the relief to be taken in the way that suits the option holder.

3470.This paragraph also contains information about how to arrive at the share values. Sub-paragraph (6)(a) makes it clear that the value of the shares for the £100,000 test is frozen at the time when the option is granted. This was the intention of the original clause and is the way the provision has been interpreted. As this is part of the definition of “unexercised qualifying options” it has an impact on the test in paragraph 7(1) of this Schedule and in turn on paragraphs 41 and 43 as well. See Change 177 in Annex 1.

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