Start-ups to get a major boost with new laws

Wednesday 27 May 2015:

The start-up sector will soon receive a massive boost as new laws to improve employee share schemes passed through the House of Representatives today and were transmitted to the Senate for passage.

These changes to the employee share scheme framework build on our Growing Jobs and Small Business package which is about supporting innovation and creating the right conditions for Australian entrepreneurs.

We need to be able to compete with other countries such as the UK and the USA to land new enterprise and livelihood opportunities here – and these latest changes will help us do that.

They will allow innovative Australian firms to attract and retain high quality employees in a globally competitive labour market.

The changes also unwind the harm caused by the former Labor Government’s amendments to the taxation of options issued under an employee share scheme.

Under Labor, options were taxed when they were provided to the employee. This meant employees were hit with a substantial tax liability, even though there was no material capacity to generate the resources to pay it, for example by selling the underlying share.

Our amendments mean that the tax on the options is paid when the option is converted to a share, so there is an actual material value on the options.

As well as this, the Government has introduced a new incentive that will allow further deferral of the taxing point where eligible start-up companies issue shares or options to their employees at a small discount.

To ensure we are reducing the impact of red tape burdens on small businesses, the Abbott Government has also made additional amendments to simplify the process of establishing and maintaining an employee share scheme.