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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.

Selected Articles


NEW! Incentive Stock Options: What You Must Know To Make The Most Of ISOs And Avoid Costly Mistakes This is premium content

Incentive stock options (ISOs) are potentially quite valuable. However, they are more rule-bound, complex, and risky than nonqualified stock options (NQSOs). In fact, mistakes with ISOs can be quite costly. This article explains the essential facts of ISOs that you must know at the time of grant, before you exercise the options, and when you sell the shares.
Taxes Advanced

12 Tax-Return Mistakes To Avoid With Stock Options And ESPPs

UPDATES! The 2017 tax season has the potential to be confusing if you sold stock last year. This article explains common errors to avoid when reporting stock sales on your tax return and provides helpful guidance on various other tax topics involving stock options and ESPPs.

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

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.
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AMT Advanced

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

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.
AMT Advanced

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

If you must pay the alternative minimum tax (AMT), the best move may be to increase income and pay even more AMT! Find out why by reading this surprising analysis.
Taxes Advanced

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

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.
This is simply a selection of the many articles in this section.
Use the navigation to the left to explore all of the categories in this section.

Selected FAQs


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 is an incentive stock option?

An incentive stock option (ISO) is a type of stock option that qualifies for special tax treatment...
Taxes Advanced

What are the biggest mistakes related to stock options I can make on my tax return, and how can I avoid them? This is premium content

It is all too easy to make costly tax-return errors that attract unwanted IRS attention. Learn how to prevent mistakes...
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Taxes Advanced

What are some major issues to be aware of when reporting stock sales on my tax return? Why have these issues arisen?

Major changes have occurred in the tax reporting for stock sales during the past few years, making accurate tax-return reporting more complex and difficult...
Taxes Advanced

How have IRS Form 1099-B and cost-basis reporting changed for sales of stock acquired from my stock options, restricted stock, or ESPP? What do I need to do differently because of the changes?

If you sold shares during the calendar year, your brokerage firm will issue IRS Form 1099-B by mid-February of the following year. This is an important document that you must have to complete your tax return for the year of sale...
Taxes Advanced

What if the wrong cost basis is reported on my 1099-B? How do I report the right cost basis on Form 8949 of my tax return? This is premium content

From our interpretation of the forms and their instructions, recommends the following reporting steps to avoid overpaying taxes...
Taxes Advanced

Form 8949 and Sch. D diagrams After I have met the ISO holding periods, how do I report a sale on my tax return? This is premium content

After you have held the stock more than two years from grant and one year from exercise, the spread between the exercise price and the sale price is...
Taxes Advanced

Form 8949 and Sch. D diagrams How do I report a sale of shares in an ISO sell-to-cover exercise? This is premium content

To report the sale of shares in a sell-to-cover exercise, you complete Form 8949 along with Schedule D for the year of...
Taxes Advanced

Form 8949 and Sch. D diagrams How am I taxed if I have made a disqualifying disposition (e.g. sale) of ISO shares in a different year than the year I exercised the option? How do I report this? This is premium content

With ISOs, it is always the sale that triggers taxes. The rules are similar to those that apply to sales of ISO shares made in the same year as exercise; the difference is that...
This is simply a selection of the many FAQs in this section.
Use the navigation to the left to explore all of the categories in this section.