Cases of backdating employee stock options have drawn public and media attention.According to a study by Erik Lie, a finance professor at the University of Iowa, more than 2,000 companies used options backdating in some form to reward their senior executives between 19.
Because the backdated options’ strike price is lower than the market price on the actual grant date, the recipient has received something of greater monetary value (even if the options have not yet vested) than a correctly dated at-the-money option. Companies could reward executives with cash compensation or additional properly dated and priced incentive awards, including options, rather than engage in dubious backdating practices. It is clear that there must be reasons other than greed that have led so many to backdate executive options. Academics, regulators, and practitioners alike have tried to gain a better understanding of these incentives and the roles they have played in the backdating scandal; however, there is as of yet no consensus regarding the causes of backdating. This is problematic because policy, legislative, or regulatory changes are unlikely to be effective if the root causes are unknown. In 2008, the long-term capital gain rate for individuals in the lowest two tax brackets (currently 5% and 15%) was further reduced to zero.
Untangling the causes of backdating will remain elusive unless each factor is considered in detail using evidence from different regimes. III 2009) (allowing carry forward for a credit for the prior year’s minimum tax liability that resulted from certain timing differences). D (illustrating in Example 4 the effect of AMT); see generally Francine J. 337 (2002) (providing a detailed discussion of the AMT and its application to ISOs). These reduced rates are currently effective until the end of 2012. 111-312, 124 Stat 3296 (extending reduced rates from the end of 2010 until the end of 2012).
Options backdating is the practice of altering the date a stock option was granted, to a usually earlier (but sometimes later) date at which the underlying stock price was lower.
This is a way of repricing options to make them valuable or more valuable when the option "strike price" (the fixed price at which the owner of the option can purchase stock) is fixed to the stock price at the date the option was granted.
Certain states also have adopted similar tax provisions.
(For example, California imposes an additional 20 percent state tax, interest, and penalties.) Implications for discount stock options Under Section 409A, a stock option having an exercise price less than the fair market value of the common stock determined as of the option grant date constitutes a deferred compensation arrangement.
The SEC’s opinions regarding backdating and fraud were primarily due to the various tax rules that apply when issuing “in the money” stock options vs.
the much different – and more financially beneficial – tax rules that apply when issuing “at the money” or "out of the money" stock options.
Both sets of motivations arise from the quantitative and qualitative benefits, costs, and risks of issuing and receiving backdated options. Certain AMT may be carried forward and applied to reduce the general tax payable in subsequent years (to the extent that the general tax exceeds the tentative alternative minimum tax liability for the subsequent year).
Most of the research to date has focused on supply side factors (e.g., accounting treatment, securities regulations, and corporate taxation), while there has been little discussion of demand side factors.
The company is required to withhold applicable income and employment taxes at the time of option vesting, and possibly additional amounts as the underlying stock value increases over time.