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Concessional ESS

Learn when employee share schemes allow concessional tax treatment for your employees.

Last updated 6 May 2020

Most employee share schemes (ESS) allow your employees concessional tax treatment if they receive their ESS interests at a discount and meet certain conditions.

Eligible employees

To qualify for concessional tax treatment the following general conditions must be met:

  • the ESS interests you provide to your employees must be in your company or your holding company
  • when your employee acquires the interest, all ESS interests available for acquisition under the scheme must relate to ordinary shares
  • immediately after acquiring the ESS interests, your employee (and their associates) must meet the     
    • 5% ownership and voting rights test (ESS interests acquired before 1 July 2015)
    • 10% ownership and voting rights test (ESS interests acquired after 30 June 2015).

Ineligible employees

Your employees will not be eligible for concessional tax treatment if all of the following apply:

  • the main business of the company in which they acquired the ESS interests is the acquisition, sale or holding of shares, securities or other investments (directly or indirectly)
  • they are employed by both your company and a subsidiary of your company or a holding company of your company, or a subsidiary of the holding company.

Specific conditions

Once the general conditions are met, the conditions that are specific to each concession must also be met.

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In addition to the general conditions, your employee must meet specific conditions for the start-up concession.

Employees may be eligible to reduce the discount amount in their taxable income by up to $1,000.

Employees may be eligible to defer paying tax on their ESS interests until the deferred taxing point.