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ESPPs: Advanced

What are the top 10 questions I should ask about my company's employee stock purchase plan?

Employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs) can be designed in different ways and provided with various features that make them appealing to participants. Before you enroll in your company's ESPP, however, you should be sure to know the answers to the following questions.

1. What type of ESPP is it?

2. Am I eligible to participate?

3. Does the ESPP have a purchase discount?

4. Does the plan have a lookback feature?

5. How long is the offering period?

6. Are there purchase periods within the offering period? If so, does the plan have a reset provision?

7. How do I enroll in the ESPP? Once enrolled, am I automatically enrolled in subsequent offering periods?

8. Is there a maximum contribution amount/percentage and number of shares I can purchase with my eligible compensation?

9. How and when can I increase or decrease my contribution percentage, or withdraw from an offering?

10. What account is used for purchased shares? Is there a mandatory holding period in that account after share purchases?

In addition, you should understand the tax treatment, and you should familiarize yourself with the documents that your company provides in printed and/or online form.

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