Business Law

Business Law News 2018, Issue 2

Stock Option Tax Rules Business Lawyers Should Know

Robert W. Wood

Robert W. Wood is a tax lawyer with, and the author of numerous tax books, including Taxation of Damage Awards & Settlement Payments ( This discussion is not intended as legal advice.

Employees who work for a salary and a cash bonus may not know much about stock options or restricted stock. But lawyers representing employees (or independent contractors) with these increasingly important forms of compensation should know the sometimes confusing tax rules that apply to stock-related compensation. In the corporate world, equity and equity-based compensation are major parts of the playing field. And with start-ups, this can be a key reason for candidates to join. In many jobs, the biggest paydays are from equity, not from cash.

Executives, rank and file workers, and even consultants might be offered stock or options in lieu of, or in addition to, their cash compensation. Even outside lawyers and other consultants can get a piece of the action, since non-employees (meaning independent contractors) sometimes receive options or restricted stock, too.

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