Legislative proposal on stock option schemes

Legislative proposal on stock option schemes
An internet consultation for a new stock option scheme started on May 31st, 2021. The aim of the legislation is to include a stock option right in the levy as much as possible when liquid assets are (or can be) available. With this, the legislator wants to prevent liquidity problems that could arise at the current taxable moment.

Under the current scheme, a stock option right is taxed when the stock options are exercised. In the proposal, a stock option right is taxed as soon as the shares acquired during the exercise can be sold and are therefore tradable. Tradability is understood to mean the moment at which any contractual restrictions on disposal are lifted and the shares acquired during exercise can be sold. After all, that is the moment that the employee can get hold of cash by selling the shares. Whether the employee actually opts to sell the shares or not is irrelevant. The shares shall in any event be deemed to be tradeable five years after the stock exchange listing of the company in which the shares are held or, if this company is already listed when the share option right is exercised, no later than five years after the share option right has been exercised. In this way, the moment of taxation is objectified and long-term postponement of taxation is avoided. If, in addition to the contractual restrictions, a legal restriction also applies and this legal restriction still applies after the period of five years, the date on which the legal restriction expires will be followed. Instead of the above rules, an employee can also opt for levy at the time of exercise, in accordance with current regulations. The employee must then inform the employer of this choice in writing at the latest upon exercise.

With the adjustment of the taxable moment, it should become more attractive to provide stock option schemes as part of the remuneration, especially for start-ups and scale-ups. The intended effective date of the new legislation is January 1, 2022. The new legislation will not affect stock options that have been exercised or sold before January 1, 2022. The new scheme fully applies to other stock options that have been agreed before January 1, 2022.