Did you exercise (or are planning to exercise) an incentive stock option (“ISO”) during calendar year 2018?  Do you intend to sell the underlying stock within the 12-month period from the date you exercised the ISO?  If you answered yes to both of the foregoing questions, then as part of your tax planning, consider whether the underlying stock should be sold during calendar year 2018 in order to minimize your alternative minimum tax (“AMT”) exposure. Continue Reading ISOs: No Item of Adjustment for AMT Purposes if Exercise and Sell within Same Calendar Year

It is difficult for publicly-traded issuers to solve the problems associated with outstanding stock options that are “underwater” (i.e., underwater because the exercise price of the stock option is greater than the fair market value of the underlying shares).  None of the typical solutions are attractive to publicly-traded issuers.  As a result, the underwater stock options continue to exist for 10 years from the date they were granted, and continue to decrease the life expectancy of the equity plan’s share reserve.  But what if a compensatory design existed that, if implemented on the front end, could negate the possible future existence of outstanding stock options that are substantially underwater?  Would such a design be attractive to an issuer so long as the design did not destroy the retention value otherwise inherent in the stock option?  Could a stock-price forfeiture provision be a solution to the foregoing problem?  Discussing a stock-price forfeiture provision as a possible solution to negate substantially underwater stock options is this “Tip of the Week.” Continue Reading Tip of the Week: Could a Stock-Price Forfeiture Provision Eliminate the Existence of Substantially Underwater Stock Options

All publicly-traded issuers have (or should have) a blackout policy that prohibits a designated individual from engaging in open-market transactions whenever such individual possesses material non-public information.  But what if the issuer is always (or near always) in a blackout period?  How does the issuer satisfy its income tax withholding obligation if the individual cannot finance the obligation through other means (e.g., family money, borrowings, etc.) and the individual is prohibited from financing the obligation by selling shares in the open market?  Answers to these questions are discussed in this Tip of the Week (presented in NO particular order, and not intended as an exhaustive list). Continue Reading Tip of the Week: 4 Ideas to Ease Tax Obligations When Equity Awards Vest During a Blackout Period

Most publicly-traded issuers are interested in ideas that could help increase the life expectancy of the share reserve under its stockholder-approved equity incentive plan.  The purpose of this “Tip of the Week” is to discuss the use of “inducement grants” as one of the many ideas to consider.

Background

If you look at an equity incentive plan’s annual life cycle on a per-key employee basis, it is likely that the largest share grant occurred at the time the key employee was hired.  That conclusion makes sense because more shares are generally granted at the time of the key employee’s hire in order to induce him or her to become employed with the issuer (compared to the number of shares it takes on an annual basis thereafter to retain that same key employee).  With this point in mind, issuers could increase the life expectancy of its equity incentive plan’s share reserve if new hires received equity grants that were “outside” of the stockholder-approved equity incentive plan. Continue Reading Tip of the Week: Use Inducement Grants to Protect an Equity Plan’s Share Reserve

If an employer grants one of its employees a restricted stock award, should that employee make an 83(b) election at the time the restricted stock award is granted?  What is the upside to the employee if he or she makes an 83(b) election?  What are the risks to the employee?  The answers to those questions are this “Tip of the Week.” Continue Reading Tip of the Week: Pros and Cons of Making an 83(b) Election

Though relative Total Shareholder Return (“TSR”) programs offer no direct line of sight for the executive to chase the business goal, such programs continue to remain the most common metric within an issuer’s performance-based equity program.  In designing these programs, a common question is how payouts could be adjusted if the issuer’s stockholders realize negative returns and lose money during the measurement period.  The answer to that question is this “Tip of the Week.” Continue Reading Tip of the Week: Addressing Negative Returns in a Relative Total Shareholder Return Program

Determining the “date of grant” of an equity award is important if the issuer desires accurate accounting charges and compliance with applicable tax laws.  Though such determination is typically straight forward, there are three common situations where identifying the date of grant could become more complex.  Addressing these three factual scenarios is this “Tip of the Week.” Continue Reading Tip of the Week: Determining the Grant Date of Equity Awards

The purpose of this post is to remind the reader to carefully think about the number of shares that should be registered under a Form S-8 Registration Statement.  As highlighted in this post, the number of shares to register is likely larger than the number of shares available under the issuer’s equity incentive plan. Continue Reading Tip of the Week: Number of Shares to Register under a Form S-8