Non Qualifying Stock Option offered by employer

Asked by: Michael Santosh

Non-qualified stock options are stock options that do not receive favorable tax treatment when exercised but do provide additional flexibility for the issuing company. Gains from non-qualified stock options are taxed as normal income.

What can you do with non-qualified stock options?

Non-qualified stock options can go to employees as well as independent contractors, partners, vendors and other people not on the company payroll. NSOs don’t qualify for favorable tax treatment for the recipient but allow the company to take a tax deduction when the options are exercised.

Do I have to pay for non-qualified stock options?

Key Takeaways. Non-qualified stock options require payment of income tax of the grant price minus the price of the exercised option. NSOs might be provided as an alternative form of compensation. Prices are often similar to the market value of the shares.

How are non-qualified stock options reported on w2?

Employers must report the income from a 2021 exercise of Non-qualified Stock Options in Box 12 of the 2021 Form W-2 using the code “V.” The compensation element is already included in Boxes 1, 3 (if applicable) and 5, but is also reported separately in Box 12 to clearly indicate the amount of compensation arising from …

Who can receive non-qualified stock options?

There are two key differences — who the stock can be issued to and the tax treatment. Qualified stock options, also known as incentive stock options, can only be granted to employees. Non-qualified stock options can be granted to employees, directors, contractors and others.

When should I exercise a non-qualified stock option?

The most common expiration of NSOs is 10 years, but this does vary from company to company. Since time is often your friend when it comes to stock options, you can simply sit out the first couple of years to allow for growth and start to exercise your NSOs in a systematic way when you are nearing expiration.

What is the difference between a qualified and nonqualified stock option?

Profits made from exercising qualified stock options (QSO) are taxed at the capital gains tax rate (typically 15%), which is lower than the rate at which ordinary income is taxed. Gains from non-qualified stock options (NQSO) are considered ordinary income and are therefore not eligible for the tax break.

What is the difference between incentive stock options and nonqualified stock options?

Incentive stock options, or “ISOs”, are options that are entitled to potentially favorable federal tax treatment. Stock options that are not ISOs are usually referred to as nonqualified stock options or “NQOs”. The acronym “NSO” is also used. These do not qualify for special tax treatment.

How are NQOs taxed?

Once you exercise your non-qualified stock option, the difference between the stock price and the strike price is taxed as ordinary income. This income is usually reported on your paystub. There are no tax consequences when you first receive your non-qualified stock option, only when you exercise your option.