Reply to post: cloud fave Amazon comes under fire for tax bill

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

This is one of the major reasons for share-based compensation being so ludicrously popular. It's a non-cash charge (i.e. costs the business "nothing") that simultaneously compensates your employees, provides a solid base of long-term shareholders, ties those employees to the company for 1-4 years, links their compensation to performance and ensures you don't pay corporation tax for years to come.

However it is a real charge and eventually those shares (once the lock up is over) are taxed as income, probably a much higher rate than the company would have been charged in the first place. In the UK that's typically 40/45% rather than 0-19% on corporation tax. More importantly it's taxed as income at the point at which the shares are accessed by the employee (1-4 years later) rather than at the time they're granted, hopefully at a much higher valuation

All in all is that a terrible thing? Only if Amazon are (as the BBC are claiming) regularly doling out awards the tune of £3,599 per year with no lockup in lieu of salary, with the expectation these awards are immediately sold back (possibly to the company). There's a good argument for tightening the regulation in this area, but I can't for the life of me think of a sane way to do it without damaging the activity this exception is intended to support.

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