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.
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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To make the most of incentive stock options (ISOs), you must understand their tax fundamentals, explained by the editor-in-chief of myStockOptions.com in this engaging video.
Here's some advice for financial fitness: take stock of taxes before you exercise! When and how you exercise your stock options can have a major impact on how much tax and which taxes you'll pay.
PowerPoint presentation (in PDF) that the editorial team of myStockOptions.com developed to provide a convenient crash course on the basics of incentive stock options. (Premium members may request permission to use it at their companies.)
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.
Internal Revenue Service
This IRS publication explains the tax treatment of many kinds of income, including that from NQSOs, ISOs, and restricted stock/RSUs.