I’m Daniel Zajac, CFP®

I write about employee stock options and equity compensation in a way that is easy to understand.

Maximizing the Value of Your Equity Compensation: A Guide to Making the Right Choice for You

If you’re wondering how to maximize the value of your incentive stock options (ISOs), non-qualified stock options (NQSOs), restricted stock units (RSUs), or other forms of equity compensation, you’re not alone. After all, there is plenty to think about if you’ve been granted equity compensation. You may dream of how to strike it rich. You may fear you’ll do something wrong and miss out. You might become mired in taxing technicalities, including AMT calculations. All that thinking can backfire if “TMI” (too much information) prevents you from proceeding.

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Why Exercising Incentive Stock Options When the Stock Price is Down May Not Be Your Best Strategy

Wouldn’t it be great if your company stock price only ever went up—especially if you’re participating in its growth through incentive stock options (ISOs)? Unfortunately, that’s not always how the world turns. If the share price goes down instead, you may be bummed to see the value of your incentive stock options is less than what it once was. However, a down stock price might mean that you could score some tax breaks if you exercise and hold some of those ISOs. When the price is down, the move might help minimize alternative minimum tax (AMT).

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What Equity Compensation Shares Are the Best to Contribute to a Donor Advised Fund? Part 2

To achieve this win-win ideal, it’s important to be deliberate about which equity compensation share lots you donate, as well as whether you donate them as post-sale cash proceeds, or unsold shares. We concluded that cash isn’t necessarily king when donating to a DAF. Directly donating low basis, long-term shares usually reigns supreme.

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How Incentive Stock Options May Be Taxed: And Some Caveats About Seeking A Qualified Disposition

Who doesn’t love a great tax break? You and I can’t personally reverse a bear market or revise Federal regulations. But we do get to decide when and how to exercise, hold, and sell our incentive stock options (ISOs), dictating whether we have a qualified disposition or disqualified disposition. Why not make best use of your tax-planning powers when you do?

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Should You Really Sell Your Vested Restricted Stock Units? The Answer Is a Resounding “Maybe”

Do you hold Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) that are about to vest, or have recently vested? That probably means you’re a valued employee, so congrats on that. Still, vested RSUs are a taxable event in your life, as well as a financial planning conundrum: Are you better off hanging onto the vested company stock you now hold, or selling them, to reinvest the proceeds elsewhere? A common—and often correct—consensus is to sell the vested stock shares that originate from vested RSUs.

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Dive Deeper

Whether you’re trying to figure out how to exercise your stock options or how those stock options may impact you at tax time, here are some resources to help.

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