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Post-Election Updates At Help Employees With Year-End Planning For Stock Compensation

December 1, 2016 — Year-end is a key time for financial and tax planning among the millions of employees who have stock compensation or holdings of company shares. In 2016, year-end financial and tax planning can be tricky when the ongoing impact of recent tax-rate changes is weighed against the prospect of tax reforms ahead under the new president. To help, provides education and guidance on major issues, decisions, and innovative financial-planning strategies for the end of 2016 and the start of 2017. This content is available in the website section Financial Planning: Year-End.

Tax Brackets And Rates Affect Year-End Planning For Equity Compensation And Company Shares

Along with the financial- and tax-planning concepts that apply at the close of every year, in 2016 people with equity comp and company shares will want to continue considering the impact of the tax changes that took effect under the American Taxpayer Relief Act and the Affordable Care Act.

Timely year-end guidance is particularly crucial for people who are considering option exercises or stock sales at the end of 2016. "Employees with equity grants and company shares should be aware of the 2016 and 2017 thresholds for higher tax rates on compensation income and capital gains, the additional Medicare tax on compensation income, and the Medicare surtax on investment income," notes Bruce Brumberg, the Editor-in-Chief of "They may want to consider keeping their income below those known thresholds, if possible. If you are convinced that tax rates will be lower in 2017 and beyond, you may want to defer income into the future and accelerate deductions into 2016."

While keeping these tax rates and thresholds in mind, employees should also consider the prospects for tax reforms ahead under President Donald Trump. In 2017, President Trump will probably propose tax-law changes that are supported by the Republican-controlled Congress. These changes are expected to include:

  • a simplification of individual income tax rates, including a reduction in the top rate
  • the elimination of the alternative minimum tax
  • the repeal of Obamacare and the related Medicare taxes that fund it under the Affordable Care Act

However, caution is warranted. "The prospects for tax-rate decreases, and their timing, remain too uncertain to be a controlling factor in decision-making at year-end 2016," warns Mr. Brumberg. "Even if you predict that tax rates are likely to change in the future, many experts say that tax rates should never be the only reason for exercising options or selling shares, or waiting to do so, at the end of the year. Instead, make investment objectives and personal financial needs, not tax considerations, the driver of your decisions."

At year-end, multi-year planning is especially valuable with equity compensation. "You can control the timing of stock sales and option exercises, and you know when restricted stock/RSUs will vest," points out Mr. Brumberg.

Year-End Content Provides Education And Guidance

At, the section Year-End Planning has been fully updated for 2016. Its content includes the following articles and FAQs.



Alongside the core year-end articles and FAQs, other FAQs in the year-end section answer advanced related questions, including:

All of these questions, and many others, are answered in the section Financial Planning: Year-End Planning. In addition, the calculators and modeling tools at allow users to play out various "what if" scenarios with different tax rates and stock prices.

For similar education and guidance on year-end planning for nonqualified deferred compensation, employees can turn to, a separate sibling publication of

Corporate Licensing Available

For companies, education is vital for ensuring that stock compensation motivates and retains highly valued employees and executives. The expert yet reader-friendly content at is ideally suited for licensing by companies and stock plan providers for their stock plan participants. A customized version of the website's award-winning content can be seamlessly woven into companies' HR, benefits, and/or compensation portals. Accessible through any internet browser, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, licensed content from lets stock plan participants answer their own questions about their stock grants whenever they need to learn more—saving time for the stock plan staff and costs for the company. For more information, visit, email, or call 617-734-1979.


With exclusive articles, 800+ FAQs, podcasts, videos, the Tax Center, interactive quizzes, the Learning Center with courses for CE credit, the Global Tax Guide, an extensive glossary, a smartphone app for iOS and Android devices, and dynamic patented tools, is the premier online resource of educational content and tools on stock options, restricted stock, restricted stock units, performance shares, stock appreciation rights, and employee stock purchase plans. is written and managed by leading experts in equity compensation, and is produced by a company with a long history of successful publications explaining complex legal and financial subjects in plain English.

The accounting journal CPA Wealth Provider selected among companies "that have taken the lead through innovation, efficiency, initiative, or growth in the financial-planning area." The Specialized Information Publishers' Foundation honored MSO Pro with one of its Editorial Excellence Awards in the category of Best Interactive Content among niche publishers. The influential consumer magazine PC World has ranked among "the most useful sites ever" that "deliver top-notch information, support, and services." has also received extensive favorable coverage in the media, including BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Boston Globe, and on CNN, National Public Radio, PBS,, and has a related site on nonqualified deferred compensation at The staff also created the successful insider trading prevention video series Think Twice, available at

For more information, please contact Bruce Brumberg and Matt Simon at or 617-734-1979.

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