rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Business » Why holding on to shares can save tax liability

Why holding on to shares can save tax liability

September 10, 2013 10:17 IST

Why holding on to shares can save tax liability

     Next

Next
Arvind Rao

Indian companies with overseas operations are increasingly awarding equity incentives in order to attract and retain talent.


Ajay Kumar was handsomely rewarded with Employee Stock Option Plans on the foreign company shares (listed on European stock exchanges) from his multinational company last year. He was more than happy when he received his paycheck in August last year after he had exercised his stock options and then sold shares to capitalise on the 10 euro per share (about Rs 87) difference (between the market price and the exercise price) that was available on the Esops.

His company withheld the required TDS on the Esops realisation and handed the balance to him. Esops have emerged as one of the most effective compensation tools by Indian and multinational companies alike. A KPMG study on Esops lists some of the popular reasons for implementing them as: wealth creation for employees, retention, attracting fresh talent and inculcating the feeling of ownership in order to motivate employees.

The same study noted that Indian companies with overseas operations are increasingly awarding equity incentives in order to attract and retain talent. Under an Esop, top-performing employees are eligible to purchase a pre-determined number of shares (option granted) in the company at a pre-determined price (also called the exercise price). This is usually at a discount to the market price.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: A broker monitors index numbers on his computer terminals at a stock brokerage firm in Mumbai.
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters

     Next

Why holding on to shares can save tax liability

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Once this option vests with the employees, their decision to buy (or not) such shares has to be conveyed during the vesting period (generally a year or two). After the vesting period, the shares can be bought at the exercise price. At that time, an employee may sell the stock or hold on to it in hopes of further price appreciation. In some cases, companies provide for a specified lock-in period, during which the shares cannot be sold.

The taxation laws of Esops has gone through several changes in the past few years. During the draconian FBT regime, an employer was required to pay a fringe-benefit tax on the benefit derived by employees from Esops, which in turn could be recovered from employees.

At present, benefits derived from Esops are taxed as perquisites and form part of salary income. The perquisite value is computed as the difference between the Fair Market Value of the share on the date of exercise and the exercise price. There are specific valuation rules prescribed for listed and unlisted companies in order to determine the FMV. An employer is required to deduct tax in respect of any tax liability arising from perquisites.

In addition, the difference between the sale consideration of the shares and the FMV on the date of exercise (as referred above) is chargeable to tax under the head capital gains in the hands of an employee.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: A broker monitors a screen displaying live stock quotes on the floor of a trading firm in Mumbai.
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters
Tags: FMV , Esops , FBT

Prev     Next

Why holding on to shares can save tax liability

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

In order to compute capital gains, the FMV on the date of exercise becomes the cost of acquiring such shares. Depending on whether they have been held for 12 months or more from the date of exercise, capital gains will qualify as long term or short term. Further, if the shares are sold on a recognised stock exchange in India, the long-term capital gains will be exempt and the short-term capital gains will be subject to the preferential rate of taxes at 15 per cent.

Most employees allotted Esops sell the shares immediately to enjoy the gains and regard this money as a part of a bonus. Consequently, this money is spent on luxury holidays, cars or more productive matters such as pre-paying large home loan balances. After having utilised the money gained from Esops, employees forget the potential tax liability arising out of the capital gains.

They are then in for a rude shock when they come face-to-face with the truth during tax-filing season. In Kumar’s case above, since the Esops were sold immediately on exercise, he had earned short-term capital gains. Again, as the shares were sold on a foreign stock exchange, they were not eligible for preferential tax rates.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: A broker monitors share prices while trading at a brokerage firm in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Prev     Next

Why holding on to shares can save tax liability

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

In other words, Kumar was now liable to pay short-term capital gains tax on the entire capital gains of Rs 3 lakh at the slab rates applicable, which turned out to be the highest slab rate, before he could file his tax returns in July this year. To add to his woes, the high amount of taxes (about Rs 90,000) that he was now liable for, also attracted interest under various sections of the Income-Tax Act for non-payment of advance-tax installments during the previous year 2012-13.

His total tax liability, including tax and interest amounted to a whopping Rs 105,000 that was due to be paid by the end of July 2013. Kumar was dumb-struck with these calculations and left feeling that the whole Esop thing did not really benefit him in the way he had perceived it. Much like him, other employees cash in on Esops by selling them in the stock market. They seem to be content with the TDS by an employer and forget the capital-gains liability.

Even with the preferential short-term capital-gains tax rate, the liability works out to quite a sum if left till the year-end. All employees who cashed in on Esops since April this year can work out their potential capital-gains liability and discharge a part of it through the first advance-tax installment due by September, 15.

Click NEXT to read more...


Image: A broker monitors share prices while trading at a brokerage firm in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
Tags: Kumar , TDS

Prev     Next

Why holding on to shares can save tax liability

Prev     More
Prev

More

Of course, holding on to the shares for more than 12 months after the date of exercise and then selling it on recognised Indian stock exchanges can help an employee avoid capital gains totally.

Optimise returns from Esops

i) Hold the shares for more than one year to avoid long-term capital gains tax

ii) Sell on a recognised stock exchange in India

iii) If shares are sold in less than one year, pay short term capital gains tax

The writer is a certified financial planner


Image: A broker monitors share prices at a brokerage firm in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
Tags: Esops , India

Prev     More
Source: