Grounds For Allowing A Tax Deduction For Employee Share Incentives

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Herman van Dyk


Share-Based Payments, Tax Deduction, Expenditure Actually Incurred, Sound Tax Policy Principles, Tax Symmetry


Share-based payments have become a popular form of employee remuneration, largely due to its potential to address the agency problem, and are especially effective when made to senior employees. Accounting standards require companies to report share-based payments made to employees as expenses in their financial statements, but extant South African tax legislation does not permit a deduction, where shares are awarded, to serve as incentives for senior employees. This is due to the fact that the courts do not view the issue of a companys own shares as expenditure. South African tax legislation presently contains a special tax deduction for shares awarded to employees, but this provisions restrictive requirements and low monetary limit is inadequate where the intention is to provide adequate incentives to senior employees in order to address the agency problem. The objective of this paper is to evaluate whether sufficient grounds exist, based on the principles of sound tax policy, for the legislature to enact a special tax deduction for share-based payments, that would serve as an adequate incentive to senior employees. The evaluation found that the current tax position infringes upon several principles of sound tax policy and that an intervention by the legislature is required.


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