The important 31 March mandatory due date is looming for the filing of 2021 returns of information for employee share participation schemes and certain cash settled schemes. Gemma Jacobsen and our People Services team explain.

Why this matters

The deadline is particularly important for companies whose employees and directors have been awarded shares, vested restricted stock units, participated in unapproved share options schemes, key employee engagement programme (KEEP) options, or certain Revenue-approved share participation schemes.

The following returns are in electronic format:

  • Form RSS1 - Details of the grant, release, assignment, and exercise of unapproved share options awarded to directors and employees. 
  • Form ESA – The level of detail required to be completed on the form is extremely broad. The form covers all share awards including those that are “cash-settled” as well as incentive cash payments whose value has been processed through Irish payroll but is based upon a notional share value, e.g., phantom shares. Please refer to our previous alerts  (Share Schemes Reporting (28 June 2021)) for more information on what share awards will fall within the scope and outside the scope of this form. 
  • Form ESS1 – Details of certain events and transactions on shares held by an Irish Revenue Approved Profit Sharing Scheme (APSS) trust.
  • Form KEEP 1 – Details Key Employee Engagement Programme share options which are granted to employees and directors of certain small medium enterprises.

Failure to comply with this mandatory filing obligation can result in a monetary penalty. In the cases of Revenue-approved schemes (such as approved profit sharing schemes, employee share ownership trusts, and “save as you earn” share option schemes), Revenue approval of the scheme can be withdrawn, and for KEEP share option schemes, the company would no longer be considered as a qualifying company.

The electronic Forms ESA ESS1 KEEP1 and RSS1, are in a spreadsheet format which must be uploaded on the Revenue Online System (ROS).  Only registered ROS users may access and upload returns. Additional time should be factored in by employers if they need to obtain a Share Scheme Registration number (“SSR”) and ensure that their tax adviser (if filing the return on their behalf) is linked as their tax agent with Revenue, in order to help ensure the Forms are filed on time.

A separate 31 March 2022 mandatory filing requirement also applies to the following Revenue-approved share participation schemes:

  • Form SRSO1 for “save as you earn” share options.
  • Form ESOT1 for employee share ownership trust transactions.

These filings continue to be in paper form. 

Next steps

Employers should consider the following:

  • Reviewing current share plans and cash-based incentive arrangements to help ensure that the taxation and reporting position are fully understood – this may also be an opportunity to consider whether the current arrangements remain fit for purpose.  
  • Identifying the stakeholders that will be responsible for providing the information needed.
  • Documenting the processes and procedures relating to securing the information including, where possible, automation.
  • Assessing the reporting obligations in relation to domestic directors and employees and globally mobile employees.
  • Preparing an employee communication regarding the information that will be disclosed to Ireland’s Revenue. 

Get in touch

If you have any queries on the deadline discussed above, please contact Olive O'Donoghue or Thalia O'Toole of our Reward Services team. We'd be delighted to hear from you.

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