November 20, 2017

ESS: Are you paying too much tax?

stock market Executive Share Schemes Resources Unearthed

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Many mining and resources executives in executive share schemes (ESS) feel they are paying too much tax, and sometimes they are.

Due to the complexity of withholding tax, particularly where foreign tax jurisdictions have been involved, many mining and resources executives are unaware of or unable to review or understand the foreign tax payable and may receive higher tax or withholding bills than they are liable for.

This year alone my firm has assisted two clients recover a total of $160,000.

How to benefit from your withholding tax credits or receive tax refunds due

The tax processes in overseas jurisdictions are a difficult and complicated area, not only for mining and resources executives, but for many financial professionals too. It is easy to lose track of the tax and if any hypothetical withholding was held by your employer for your executive share scheme. In my experience, your accountant too may not have the information to understand or realise there is a problem.

I have a specialisation in executive share schemes and work with executives to clarify the financial consequences of the tax liabilities of ESS’s, including those in other countries. To be clear, I do not determine the final liability but having worked with resource company executive share schemes for the last 17 years, I have a specialised perspective and experience.

Withholding tax may be applied by your employer company on behalf of a tax jurisdiction where you have been or are currently living and working. If you have been or are currently working in a country that you were not recruited in, your employer company may also apply a hypothetical withholding tax liability. I know of two significant companies that levy a hypothetical withholding tax, which can be the cause of substantial confusion for executives.

In either case, you need to ensure the actual or hypothetical withholding tax is credited back to your account. In my experience, many executives do not have the time or resources to track this appropriately.

The tax accountant may not have received all the historical data they require to properly consider the withholding tax you have paid, particularly if it was hypothetical. This may lead to a significant tax bill. Alternatively, in the case where the amount of withholding tax you have paid is greater than your eventual tax liability, you may not receive the refund or credit you are due.

If you think you may be paying too much tax or would like to discuss your ESS, please contact me or James Marshall by phoning (+61 7) 3007 2007 or emailing or

For over 17 years, my team and I have helped mining and resources executives to make the most of their ESS. This includes liaising with their accountant to clarify the details of withholding or hypothetical tax they have paid. In addition to executive share schemes (ESS), we also offer specialised advice for mining and resources executives on overseas assignments; foreign taxation [1] support; negotiating remuneration packages; and wealth creation & personal risk.

[1] We are not licenced tax agents in any country and do not provide specific tax advice. Our services include providing annual tax reporting information on behalf of our clients. This means they are not stuck with the administrative grind of information provision in multiple jurisdictions and do not need to be aware of the tax implications of strategic decisions in a multitude of countries.


Resources Unearthed is a solutions hub that provides integrated financial, business and legal services for executives, professionals and business owners in the mining and resources sectors.

Stratus Financial Group and its advisers are Authorised Representatives of Fortnum Private Wealth Ltd ABN 54 139 889 535 AFSL 357306. This information does not consider your personal circumstances and is of a general nature only. You should not act on it without first obtaining professional financial advice specific to your circumstances. 



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