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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.


Incentive stock options carry great potential tax benefits, but their taxation can be complex, especially when the alternative minimum tax comes into play. Browse an overview of this section below, or explore the subtopics to the left. See also the ISO sections of the Tax Center.

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Stock Option Fundamentals (Part 5): Incentive Stock Option Taxation & Alternative Minimum Tax This is premium content

Marilyn Renninger
Learn how and when income from ISOs is subject to taxes, including the alternative minimum tax. You must consider taxes at both exercise and sale to put together an optimal strategy.

IRS Form 3921 For Incentive Stock Options: What You Need To Know, And How It Can Help You Understand ISO Taxation This is premium content

Bruce Brumberg
Incentive stock option (ISO) exercises made during a calendar year are reported to you and the IRS on Form 3921 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 ISO taxation.

The ISO Tax Trap And The AMT Credit Myth: What To Do Before Exercise And At Year-End This is premium content

Alan Ungar
The tax reductions of the past few years have brought both good and bad news for holders of incentive stock options. While you may have lower capital gains rates when you hold the shares long enough after exercise, it is harder to avoid the risks of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and to fully recover any AMT credit.

The Alternative Minimum Tax Sweet Spot: Planning Opportunities This is premium content

Tom Davison and William Whitaker
"My income is around half a million dollars, and I'm paying the alternative minimum tax. It's annoying, and I feel trapped. Now what?" Surprisingly, the best move may be to increase income, and pay even more alternative minimum tax! Find out why by reading this intriguing article.

Tax Planning For Options, Restricted Stock, And ESPPs After Recent Tax Law Changes: High-Income Taxpayers Impacted Most (Part 1)

Tom Davison and William Whitaker
Notable shifts in tax rates have occurred for people with high incomes. Part 1 surveys these important tax changes and considers their impact on planning.

Dr. Strange Tax, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The AMT This is premium content

Several years ago I faced a new situation. I'd been working for a solid Fortune 500 company for a number of years and had a substantial number of stock options, mostly incentive stock options (ISOs). They were quite valuable. What I did not reckon on, however, was the alternative minimum tax. Here is my story.

ISOs: Tax-Return Tips And Traps This is premium content

The Editorial Team & Contributors
Tax reporting with incentive stock options (ISOs) can be tricky. Learn what you need to report on your return at each stage of your ISO's life cycle.

American Taxpayer Relief Act And Medicare Surtax: Impact On Stock Option And Restricted Stock Strategies This is premium content

Alan B. Ungar
Podcast included! The American Taxpayer Relief Act and the Affordable Care Act introduced tax-rate increases you must consider in deciding when to exercise stock options, when to sell company shares, and how to plan around income from restricted stock/RSU vesting.

Tax Planning For Options, Restricted Stock, And ESPPs After Recent Tax Law Changes: High-Income Taxpayers Impacted Most (Part 2) This is premium content

Tom Davison and William Whitaker
Notable shifts in tax rates have occurred for people with high incomes. Part 2 looks at planning strategies involving capital gains rates, the AMT, and ISOs, and considers general ideas related to income-shifting.

ISOs And Wash Sales: A Trap Within A Trap

Kaye Thomas
A trap awaits those who, after selling shares from exercised ISOs to avoid AMT, want to buy back the stock.

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What are the top 10 questions I should ask about my stock options?

You should know the answers to the following questions. Understanding the topics involved will help you make the most of your stock options and prevent costly mistakes...

What ISO strategies can help minimize AMT liability? This is premium content

Experts suggest several strategies for you to consider when you exercise ISOs and are concerned about triggering the alternative minimum tax. For example, near year-end or at the beginning of the year, you can...

I know that my ISO exercises will trigger the AMT for me this year or next. Are there planning strategies related to other tax payments and income? This is premium content

When you are intermittently subject to the AMT, tax advisors suggest different planning ideas on shifting income and deductions. You have much less flexibility in your planning when you project paying AMT for the next several tax years. A basic plan is to...

What is the alternative minimum tax?

Running parallel to the regular tax system, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) was designed to require extremely wealthy people to pay their fair share of taxes when credits and deductions could otherwise reduce or eliminate their tax liabilities. However, the reach of the AMT has expanded over time to hit middle-income people it was never intended to tax...

I have paid AMT, so do I get an adjustment when I sell the ISO shares to get all the taxes back? This is premium content

It's not that simple. AMT requires you to account separately for ISO shares not only at exercise but also when the shares are sold. If you paid AMT as a result of exercising ISOs, your sale of the ISO shares provides an opportunity for you to recover...

Are there any AMT strategies when I also have NQSOs? This is premium content

Yes. The AMT from your ISO exercises might be so high this year that you can also exercise NQSOs and essentially not pay any tax on the spread...

What is the latest news from Congress about legislation relating to the alternative minimum tax?

The American Taxpayer Relief Act has three provisions on the alternative minimum tax (AMT) that are important for high-income taxpayers, particularly those who exercise incentive stock options...

Is it easy to calculate AMT liability?

The AMT rules and forms baffle even tax professionals. You can better understand the process by...

I have a large unused AMT credit. Is there a refundable AMT credit to help me use it faster? This is premium content

For AMT credits more than three years old, the refundable AMT credit was, for a limited time only, a potential way to speed the recovery of taxes paid when ISO exercise triggered the AMT. However, this special tax treatment was not extended beyond the 2012 tax year...

In general, how does the alternative minimum tax (AMT) calculation work?

The AMT system is complicated. Broadly, it starts by taking your adjusted gross income, subtracts your itemized deductions, makes certain negative and positive adjustments, and includes certain tax items called tax "preferences." The resulting amount...

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