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Revenue announce the release of the new Employer’s Share Awards reporting return (Form ESA)

30 June, 2021

This new return has a similar format to the existing Form RSS1, which relates to Share Options. The return must be completed offline and then uploaded to Revenue Online Service (ROS).

Revenue eBrief 120/21 issued on 20 June 2021. This eBrief announced the release of the new Employer’s Share Awards reporting return (Form ESA), which is now available for download. The launch of Form ESA was initially provided for in Finance Act 2020 and eBrief No 103/21 (May 2021). Our previous bulletin on 24 May relates to same. 

An aerial photo of the forty foot spot in Dublin, Ireland.

The return includes individual sections relating to the following types of rewards:

  • Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)*
  • Discounted-Free-Matching-ESPP
  • Restricted shares (clog schemes)
  • Convertible shares
  • Forfeitable shares
  • Phantom - Stock Appreciation Rights - Cash
  • Growth - Hurdle - Flowering
  • Other

* The reporting of the grant of RSUs is currently optional, However, RSUs which vested during the year must be reported.

The return is all encompassing and in essence all share awards (or cash settled share awards) not currently reportable, either via an RSS1 or otherwise, are now reportable via this return. Please note that the recording of awards for PAYE withholding tax purposes as required under Real Time Reporting guidelines, does not meet Revenue’s definition of the awards being “otherwise reportable”.

Filing dates

The current version of Form ESA will collate data relating to 2020. This year's filing return will be 31 August 2021.

However, for subsequent years the reporting deadline of 31 March will apply, placing it in line with all other share reporting deadlines.

The release of Form ESA and the guidance provided by Revenue via the updated Tax and Duty manual does raise some questions. For example, the new ESA return has a specific section now dealing with ESPP Plans. What does this mean for ESPP plans which were previously deemed to operate as option plans and have already been reported on Form RSS1. 

There are also some questions regarding “matching shares” or “free shares” provided to employees and whether these should fall to what would traditionally have been viewed as RSUs or whether such shares should now fall within the section relating to “shares acquired at less than Market Value”. As part of this eBrief, Revenue has invited feedback which will in turn impact further updates to the guidance. PwC will be participating in the feedback process.

Finally, the eBrief announced the introduction of new guidance on two further areas of share based remuneration; Growth shares and cash settled share awards.

PwC will be providing further information and guidance on the completion of this return, as well as our analysis of the return, as part of a webcast being held by our Share Schemes Group on 13 July. We will separately be in touch with you advising on how you can register for this event.

Contact us

Pat Mahon

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6186

Liam Doyle

Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 8638

Tara Murray

Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 5465

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