Tax Center / Global Tax Guide / Glossary / Discussion / Newsletters / About Us
Register Log in
Taxes Advanced   

Annotated diagram of Schedule DTax errors can be costly! Don't draw unwanted attention from the IRS. Our Tax Center explains and illustrates the tax rules for sales of company stock, W-2s, withholding, estimated taxes, AMT, and more.


Employee stock purchase plans offer great benefits. Browse an overview of this section below, or explore the subtopics to the left. See also the ESPP sections of the Tax Center.

Test Your Knowledge Test and improve your knowledge with our ESPP quiz and its study guide in the answer key.

Want to know more? Listen to our podcast on the basics of ESPPs!

  Articles   FAQs  

VIDEO! Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPPs): Core Concepts & Benefits

Bruce Brumberg
In this video, the editor-in-chief of explains the fundamentals of employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs). Animated examples clearly illustrate the benefits that ESPPs can provide for employees. Running time: 3:35

VIDEO! Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPPs): Key Rules & Decisions

Bruce Brumberg
Presented by the editor-in-chief of, this video covers the important rules you must know and the key choices you will have to make when you participate in an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP). Running time: 2:53

Six ESPP Essentials (Part 2): Holding Periods, Tax Treatment, Major Corporate Or Personal Events This is premium content

Matt Simon
Your company's employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) can be a strong financial benefit, but the rules and taxation can be tricky. Part 2 delves into the complicated topics of holding periods, tax treatment, and the impact of various life events on your ESPP participation and holdings.

IRS Form 3922 For ESPPs: What You Need To Know, And How It Can Help You Understand ESPP Taxation This is premium content

Bruce Brumberg
Stock purchases made through an ESPP during a calendar year are reported to you and the IRS on Form 3922 early in the following year. This article explains what you need to know about the information on the form, and how the form can help you better understand the complexities of ESPP taxation.

Six ESPP Essentials (Part 1): Enrollment, Plan Type, Purchase Timing This is premium content

Matt Simon
An employee stock purchase plan can be a great benefit, but the rules and taxation are tricky. This two-part article presents six topics you must be familiar with to get the most from your ESPP. Part 1 covers enrollment, plan types, and offering/purchase periods.

Key Dates And Terms You Must Know For Your Company's ESPP

Matt Simon
Your employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) may be one of the best benefits your company offers. However, to maximize its value, you must know its key dates and terms. This article explains the basics you need to know for your ESPP participation.

ESPP Taxation Made Simple This is premium content

Matt Simon
Your employee stock purchase plan may be one of the best benefits offered by your company. However, to appreciate the advantages of enrolling in the ESPP you must understand the tax consequences of participation. This article explains the tax basics.

Fundamentals Of Employee Stock Purchase Plans (Part 4): Down Markets And Other Tax Topics This is premium content

Alisa Baker
In Part 4 we consider the taxation of employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs) that are not qualified under Section 423, and the tax issues of down markets, death, and withholding.

Fundamentals Of Employee Stock Purchase Plans (Part 2): Design Limitations And Enrollment Procedures This is premium content

Alisa Baker
Part 1 looked at the basic structural elements and terms of employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs). Part 2 considers more advanced design concepts, including tax code limits and enrollment rules.

ESPP Choices: Flip Or Hold? (Part 2) This is premium content

Timothy A. Farmer and Gregory G. Geisler
You can build your employee stock purchase plan into your long-range savings and retirement strategy. This article compares buying company stock at a discount through your ESPP to putting the same money into your 401(k) or another retirement plan.

Return to top of page

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...

What is an employee stock purchase plan?

An employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) is a type of stock plan that permits employees to use after-tax payroll deductions to acquire shares of their company's stock. Plans can have...

Will I receive information statements from my company about ESPP purchases or option exercises? Will I receive Form 3922 or Form 3921? This is premium content

Companies make some information available voluntarily, while the reporting of other information is mandatory. Section 6039(a) of the Internal Revenue Code requires companies to send an information statement to employees who have exercised incentive stock options or have made purchases in a tax-qualified Section 423 employee stock purchase plan. ISO exercises are reported on IRS Form 3921. ESPP purchases are reported on IRS Form 3922...

If I purchase shares in my company's ESPP or sell the stock in a disqualifying disposition, will I need to make estimated tax payments? This is premium content

You need to pay enough tax during the year through withholding or estimated tax payments to avoid penalties and interest. The tax that has to be paid includes...

Can I ever have ordinary income but no actual gain on sales of ESPP stock? This is premium content

Yes, when the market price of the stock has dropped after purchase and you make a disqualifying disposition of the shares...

If my company eliminates the lookback for my ESPP, will the tax treatment change? This is premium content

Assuming this is still a tax-qualified ESPP, the tax treatment stays the same even with no lookback, though it gets even more confusing when...

How does an ESPP differ from a stock option plan?

Employee stock purchase plans tend to be viewed as a benefit while stock options are a form of compensation. From an employee perspective, there are some differences in operations, eligibility, and design...

What are the benefits of participating in an employee stock purchase plan?

You become an owner in your company, with all the financial upside and risks that any investment can bring. By participating in the plan...

Can my ESPP go underwater or be affected in other ways by a down market? This is premium content

Employee stock purchase plans cannot be "underwater" in the traditional sense of having a purchase price greater than the current stock price. Down markets can create special opportunities and unique issues for ESPPs. For example, with an ESPP...

What are the most common eligibility requirements for ESPPs? This is premium content

With ESPPs, the most common criteria for eligibility is...

Return to top of page