As part of A Plan for Australian Jobs: The Australian Government's Industry and Innovation Statement, the Government announced that it would explore options around the impact of employee share schemes (ESSs) on Australian start-ups.
On 12 June 2013, the Australian Government released Advancing Australia as a Digital Economy: An Update to the National Digital Economy Strategy, which recognised that more could be done to support Australian start-ups by reducing the cost and complexity of administering ESSs. The Government announced that it would review the policy settings around ESSs.
The Government announced that it would consult with stakeholders to determine the most effective measures to address the barriers faced by start‑up companies, including issues around:
- developing guidance to reduce the administrative burden (meaning the cost of valuing shares and options) of establishing an ESS;
- adjusting the valuation methodology of options; and
- examining the point at which share options are taxed for start-up companies.
The Review will be undertaken by Treasury, the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE) and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE).
The Review will report back to Government by December 2013.
The discussion paper Employee Share Schemes and Start-up Companies: Administrative and Taxation Arrangements outlines the current arrangements and possible options for changes to the ESS system.