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

The myStockOptions Editorial Team
NEW! 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.

Final ISO Regulations Affect Stock Plan Design, Optionholders, And Advisors (Part 1)

Ellie Kehmeier and Elizabeth Drigotas
The final rules clarify and consolidate a tangle of proposed, temporary, and final regulations, as well as other guidance, that governed the taxation of ISOs, including rules for disqualifying dispositions.

Final ISO Regulations Affect Stock Plan Design, Optionholders, And Advisors (Part 2)

Ellie Kehmeier and Elizabeth Drigotas
The final rules clarify and consolidate a tangle of proposed, temporary, and final regulations, as well as other guidance, that governed the taxation of ISOs, including rules for the $100,000 ISO limit.

Treasury And IRS Regulations For Incentive Stock Options

IRS and US Treasury Department
The final IRS regulations on ISOs, last modified in 2004, clarified points that are of greater concern to ISO-granting companies than to individual optionholders and advisors (they did not affect the basic tax structure or the AMT treatment). However, for the purposes of ISO-related financial planning, the rules do clarify certain advanced topics, such as the wash sale rule, stock swaps, transfers to trusts, and transfers in divorce, and they confirm current interpretations and practices. A detailed discussion about the background of the final ISO regulations occurs in the text of the proposed regulations.

Early-Exercise ISOs Complicated By Final IRS Regulations This is premium content

Michael Frank
Featuring reverse vesting, early-exercise stock options are usually granted only by pre-IPO companies. The IRS regulations on ISOs increase risk in early-exercise options, making it crucial that you understand the tax treatment.

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Is there a limit to the number or value of ISOs that I may be granted?

There is no limit to the number of options that may be granted as ISOs. However, one of the requirements for ISOs in the Internal Revenue Code is...

Can ISOs be granted at an exercise price below fair market value? This is premium content

Section 422 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) specifies that ISOs must be granted at a price that is at least equal to...

When I am no longer with my company (e.g. because of job loss, disability, or death), will tax-law limits or deadlines dictate when I must exercise an ISO? This is premium content

Yes. Under the Internal Revenue Code, you must exercise an ISO within...

Can independent contractors, consultants, or outside directors be granted ISOs? This is premium content

The Internal Revenue Code has strict rules for incentive stock options (ISOs). Grants of stock options to nonemployees will be...

How is the $100,000 limit on ISOs calculated? This is premium content

Although the $100,000 limit on ISOs applies in the year when the options become exercisable, it is determined by the...

Can the annual limit of $100,000 in exercisable ISOs be adversely affected by any post-grant events, such as job termination or the acceleration of vesting in a merger? This is premium content

One barrier to maintaining ISO status is any acceleration of your vesting that causes more than $100,000 of the grant's value to be first exercisable in...

If my company cancels my underwater stock options, will they still count against the $100,000 ISO limit? This is premium content

This depends on whether the ISOs are already vested. According to the final IRS regulations on ISOs...

What other limitations apply to ISOs?

In addition to the $100,000 limit, the bar on issuing ISOs to nonemployees, and the required granting of ISOs at...

Can an ISO be divided in a divorce? This is premium content

Generally, incentive stock options (ISOs) are not transferable in connection with a divorce. The IRS...

Can ISOs be transferred to a grantor trust? This is premium content

The final rules for ISOs that the IRS issued on August 2, 2004, permit...

Do special rules determine when a leave of absence is a termination of employment for the purposes of ISOs?

For ISO purposes, a bona fide leave of absence greater than three months can constitute a termination of employment if...

Are the disability rules the same for ISOs? This is premium content

Not necessarily. If a plan wants to allow optionholders more than three months (but not more than one year) to exercise an ISO after termination of employment...

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