Stock options backdating rules

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A new boardroom scandal is roiling Wall Street: stock options backdating.

In some cases, the date of exercise, rather than the date of grant, was changed to an earlier date to convert ordinary income into capital gains.

In general, companies engaging in a classic backdating transaction chose a date when the stock price was at a low point and chose that favorable date as the grant date.

Stock option backdating has erupted into a major corporate scandal, involving potentially hundreds of publicly-held companies, and may even ensnare Apple's icon, Steve Jobs.

While the focus of the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") centers on improper accounting practices and disclosures, thereby violating securities laws, a major yet little explored consequence to the scandal involves potentially onerous taxes on those who received these options.

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