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The taxation of stock options

While you may feel comfortable investing a larger percentage of your portfolio in your own company, it's simply safer to diversify. A special election was available so that the tax liability on the deferred stock option benefit would not exceed the proceeds of disposition for the optioned securities two-thirds of such proceeds for residents of Quebec , provided that the securities were disposed after and before , and that the election was filed by the due date of your income tax return for the year of the disposition. In general, the difference between the FMV of the shares at the time the option was exercised and the option price i. Zhu had acquired , shares in his employer, Canadian Solar Inc. The subject line of the email you send will be "Fidelity. For most people, their ordinary income tax rate is higher than the long-term capital gains tax rate. The loss is considered to be a capital loss, whereas the taxable income was considered to be employment income.

The taxation of stock option contracts depends on the type of option owned. For non-qualified stock options (NSO): The grant is not a taxable event. Taxation begins at the time of exercise. The bargain element of a non-qualified stock option is considered "compensation" and is .

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In such a case, the difference between the fair market value of the stock at exercise the strike price and the grant price—or the entire amount of gain on the sale, if less—will be taxed as ordinary income, and any remaining gain is taxed as a capital gain.

For most people, their ordinary income tax rate is higher than the long-term capital gains tax rate. While taxes are important, they should not be your sole consideration. You also need to consider the risk that your company's stock price could decline from its current level. Consult with a tax advisor before you exercise options or sell company stock acquired through an equity compensation plan.

Under most companies' stock plan rules, you will have no more than 90 days to exercise any existing stock option grants. While you may receive a severance package that lasts 6 months or more, do not confuse the terms of that package with the expiration date on your stock option grants. If your company is acquired by a competitor or merges with another company, your vesting could be accelerated.

In some cases, you might have the opportunity to immediately exercise your options. However, be sure to check the terms of the merger or acquisition before acting. Find out if the options you own in your current company's stock will be converted to options to acquire shares in the new company. Contact HR for details on your stock option grants before you leave your employer, or if your company merges with another company.

Earning compensation in the form of company stock or options to buy company stock can be highly lucrative, especially when you work for a company whose stock price has been rising for a long time. At the same time, you should consider whether you have too much of your personal wealth tied to a single stock. There are 2 main reasons. From an investment perspective, having your investments highly concentrated in a single stock, rather than in a diversified portfolio, exposes you to excess volatility, based on that one company.

Moreover, when that company is also your employer, your financial well-being is already highly concentrated in the fortunes of that company in the form of your job, your paycheck, and your benefits, and possibly even your retirement savings. Second, history, is littered with formerly high-flying companies that later became insolvent. Lehman Brothers employees shared a similar fate in as did Radio Shack workers in Consider, too, that income from your employer pays your nondiscretionary monthly bills and your health insurance.

Should your company's fortunes take a turn for the worse, you could find yourself out of a job, with no health insurance and a depleted nest egg. Consult with a financial advisor to ensure that your investments are appropriately diversified and read Viewpoints on Fidelity. The risk of a concentrated portfolio. Employee stock purchase plans ESPPs allow you to purchase your employer's stock, usually at a discount from the stock's current fair market value.

Many plans also offer a "look-back option," which allows you to buy the stock based on the price on the first or last day of the offering period, whichever is lower. Unfortunately, some employees fail to take advantage of their company's ESPP. If you are not participating, you may want to give your ESPP a second look. Depending on the discount your company offers, you could be passing on the opportunity to buy your company's stock at a significant discount.

Look at your current savings strategy—including emergency fund and retirement savings—and consider putting some of your savings in an ESPP. You may be able to use future raises to fund the plan without impacting your lifestyle. As with your k plan or any IRAs you own, your beneficiary designation form allows you to determine who will receive your assets when you die—outside of your will. If you have made no beneficiary designation, under most plan rules the executor or administrator will, in fact, treat equity compensation as an asset of your estate.

Each time you receive an equity award, your employer will ask you to fill out a beneficiary form. Many grants range in life from 3 to 10 years, during which time many factors can change in your life. For example, if you were single when you received an option grant, you may have named a sibling or parent as the beneficiary. The same holds true if you were married and got divorced, or divorced and remarried. It's important to always update your beneficiaries.

Review your beneficiaries for your equity awards—as well as your retirement accounts—on an annual basis. Get a weekly subscription of our experts' current thinking on the financial markets, investing trends, and personal finance. Please enter a valid name. First and Last name are required. Full name should not exceed 75 characters.

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View all Life and Money articles. As an incentive strategy, you may provide your employees with the right to acquire shares in your company at a fixed price for a limited period. Normally, the shares will be worth more than the purchase price at the time the employee exercises the option.

This is the estimated fair market value FMV per share at the time the option is granted. In general, the difference between the FMV of the shares at the time the option was exercised and the option price i.

The employee can claim a deduction from taxable income equal to half this amount, if certain conditions are met. Half of the difference between the ultimate sale price and the FMV of the shares at the date the option was exercised will be reported as a taxable capital gain or allowable capital loss.

Several of the employees decide to exercise their options. The benefit is calculated as follows: In the above numerical example, the value of the stock increased between the time the stock was acquired and the time it was sold.

As a result, the capital loss realized in cannot be used to offset the income inclusion resulting from the taxable benefit. Anyone in difficult financial circumstances as a result of these rules should contact their local CRA Tax Services office to determine whether special payment arrangements can be made.

The rules are different where the company granting the option is a public company.

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Jan 31,  · Stock options that are granted neither under an employee stock purchase plan nor an ISO plan are nonstatutory stock options. Refer to Publication , Taxable and Nontaxable Income, for assistance in determining whether you've been granted a statutory or a nonstatutory stock option. If you sell your shares for $10,, you'll realize a loss of $, (your adjusted cost base is $, – the value on the date you exercised your options – but you sell them for $10,). You might expect that your taxable stock option benefit could be offset by your $, loss on the sale of your shares. To help ensure that you maximize your stock option benefits, avoid making these 6 common mistakes: Mistake #1: Allowing in-the-money stock options to expire. A stock option grant provides an opportunity to buy a predetermined number of shares of your employer's company stock at a pre-established price, known as the exercise or strike price.