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  • Employee share scheme news and updates

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    Email alert

    Subscribe to our email alert by emailing ato-ess@ato.gov.au. The email alert contains updates on information about employee share scheme (ESS) reporting.

    Updates

    New reporting specification for 2017–18

    For electronic reporting specification (ERS) reporters, the 2017–18 and subsequent financial years ESS reports must be lodged using the ESS annual report specification v3.0.0External Link.

    The File transfer testing and lodging facilities are now available for 2017–18 financial year tests and lodgments.

    Online form

    The online form has been updated with some improvements and new reporting requirements for the 2017–18 financial year. The online form option is only available to employers reporting up to 50 employees with no more than three schemes to be reported for any employee.

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    Common reporting questions

    Difference between acquisition date and plan date

    • For taxed up front schemes the acquisition date is the same as the plan date.
    • For deferral schemes the acquisition date is the grant or offer date.

    The plan date is the vesting date or taxing event date in the financial year of reporting.

    See also:

    Acquisition Price fields – Do I report the individual price of the ESS interest or the individual price multiplied by the number of interests?

    On page 13 of the ESS annual report specification v3.0.0External Link under the Description of terms used in data record specifications, subheading ‘N’ there is an explanation that any reference to shares or options (a plural amount) is a reference to the cumulative total. For example:

    • Numbers of shares acquired under a start-up concession: 3055
    • Market value of individual shares acquired under a start-up concession: $2.69.

    Market value of shares acquired under a start-up concession: $8217.95. This value is truncated (as only whole dollars are reported), so the value to report in this field is: 8217

    We acquire shares on a monthly basis. Can we aggregate the share purchases for the year and report them in one Employee Details Data Record?

    No. For the 2017–18 financial year onwards, there is a requirement to separately report the acquisition price for shares acquired under taxed up front and deferral schemes.

    As this data will be used by the ATO to support taxpayer voluntary compliance by providing information related to capital gains tax events, each share issue (that is different acquisition date) will need to be reported in a separate Employee details data record.

    Currently, the field definition for Plan date (6.60 of the ESS annual report specification v3.0.0External Link), provides where there is more than one taxing point during the year, enter the date of the first taxing point.

    This concession applied only where all other reportable elements were the same. Therefore if two separate share issues have different acquisition dates, they cannot be aggregated, even if the Plan reference identifier is the same. An update will be made to the Plan date definition in the ERS to clarify this reporting requirement.

    Common lodgment questions

    Unable to see the ESS online form in the ATO portals

    Providers reporting through ATO portals must ensure they have the correct permissions set in Access Manager to prepare and lodge ESS reports. Your access administrator can log in to Access Manager to set these permissions.

    Online form not loading

    Check that you are using Firefox as the default browser.

    Why does a tax agent need to have the income tax role selected to view the online form?

    Tax agents are required to make sure their client is registered in their client list. They need an Income Tax role added to the client profile to access the ESS online form through the Tax Agent Portal.

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    Common errors

    TFNs must not be used as the employee identifier

    When reporting ESS data, a unique employee identifier must be reported in the Employee details data record for each employee. The unique identifier is referred to as the Reporting party employee identifier – see field definition 6.31 of the ESS annual report specification v3.0.0External Link. An employee’s Tax File Number (TFN) must not be used as the identifier. The employee’s TFN is reported at the Employee tax file number field – see field definition 6.30 of the ESS annual report specification v3.0.0External Link.

    Using the employee’s TFN as the Reporting party employee identifier is a breach of the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (TAA). Subsection 8WB(1) of the TAA provides that a TFN can’t be used for any purpose other than fulfilling taxation obligations as permitted by law.

    If you do not have unique employee identifiers in place, you must allocate each employee with a unique (alphanumeric) identifier to use for ESS reporting purposes. Once an identifier has been allocated to an employee – it must be used as the identifier for the same employee on all subsequent ESS reports.

    Reporting for foreign providers

    If the Provider of the ESS is an overseas entity, that entity’s details are reported in the Reporting party identity data record. The name of the overseas entity must be reported in the Name field and the address of the overseas entity must be reported in the address fields, see field definitions 6.7 and 6.22 – 6.26 of the ESS annual report specification v3.0.0External Link. If the overseas entity does not have an ABN, the Australian business number (ABN) field is zero filled.

    If the overseas entity has an ABN and lodges their own report, details for the overseas entity should be provided in the Intermediary data record and in the Reporting party identity data record.

    If the data for an overseas entity is lodged by an Australian affiliate or another third party, details for the affiliate or third party should be provided in the Intermediary data record.

    Requests for extensions of time to lodge for overseas providers

    If asking for an extension of time to lodge for an overseas provider, the requesting email must state the overseas reporting party's name, not the Australian entity.

    Lodging the report

    The ESS annual report is due 14 August. Both the file transfer and online form reporting methods must be lodged though the ATO portals.

    An AUSkey is required to access the portal. If you do not already have an AUSkey, further information on how to register is available below.

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    AUSkey

    An authentication option such as AUSkey is required to lodge on the portal. Reporters moving on to the portal will need to check their user permissions through their administrator AUSkey holder.

    By logging on to Access Manager, administrators are able to access and update staff permissions immediately.

    See also:

    ATO portal outages

    Details of planned outages and key updates to ATO portals are published at System maintenance.

    Help with lodging

    If you need help with lodging, you can contact us by:

      Last modified: 27 Jun 2018QC 27281