The past few weeks have yielded some important updates which will impact how companies implement their share plans in certain countries.

Finland: Tax support for start-ups offering employee share plans
Earlier this year a new tax regime was introduced in Finland for private companies, primarily aimed at supporting start up and growth companies.
As an alternative to traditional share options, companies may choose to issues shared directly to employees in Finland and the employees will benefit from not having to pay income tax and social security, provided the amount they pay to acquire the shares is not lower than the mathematical value of the shares. As the mathematical value will typically be lower than the fair market value of the shares, this could be a good opportunity for employees to acquire shares in a tax efficient manner.
There are a number of qualifying conditions including that the issuer must be based in the EEA or in a country with which Finland has effective exchange of information in tax matters, the opportunity for the share subscription is offered to at least half of the company’s employees in Finland and employees are limited to owing no more than 10% of the shares or voting rights in the issuing company. The changes will make it much easier for companies operating in Finland to motivate their employees by aligning their interests to those of the shareholders in a tax efficient manner.

New Zealand: Personal income tax maximum rate raised to 39%
As legislated last year, the maximum rate of personal income tax in New Zealand has been raised from 33% to 39% for the 2021/2022 tax year. This rate is therefore valid from 1 April 2021 on income above $180,000.

Thailand: Country once again postponed Personal Data Protection Act Implementation
In Thailand, the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) was due to become fully effective in May 2020, but was postponed until May this year. However the Thai cabinet have announced a further delay for a year, as a result of the Covid pandemic, and it is now expected the PDPA will become fully effective in June 2022.
This is welcome news if you operate a global share plan in Thailand as the changes introduced in the PDPA are wide ranging and the delay will give more time for companies to prepare and be ready for the new data privacy landscape in Thailand.

Please let us know if you require further detail on any of these updates.