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A Complete Guide for Employee Stock Options (ESOs)

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Created on
May 17, 2023


What’s Inside

This guide will explain the employee stock option scheme and ensure you are well-versed with the benefits and the drawbacks. Employee Stock Options (ESOs) are a form of compensation given to employees by their employers.

ESOs allow employees to buy a specific number of company shares at a predetermined price within a specified timeframe. This benefit allows employees to share in the company’s success and aligns their interests with the company's.

Taxing Decisions: Complexities of ESOs and Capital Gains

When a worker possesses ESOs, the tax regulations for executing and vending the shares fluctuate subject to the timeline. Should a worker activate the options and clutch onto the shares for more than a year before liquidating, they shall be taxed at a reduced long-term capital gains rate.

Nevertheless, an elevated short-term capital gains rate is enforced if the shares are divested before one year. It's crucial to bear in mind that customary income tax percentages also apply to the options' value, which can hold a noteworthy effect on high-gaining employees.

Navigating through the Pros and Cons of ESOs

Benefits of ESOs

The primary advantage of ESOs is that they offer employees a way to share in the company’s success. If the company’s stock price increases, the employee can buy shares at a lower price and then sell them at a higher price, resulting in a profit. ESOs also help retain top talent by offering an incentive to stay with the company long-term.

Additionally, ESOs can be used to attract new employees, particularly in competitive job markets where employers need to offer additional benefits to attract top talent.

Drawbacks of ESOs

One of the drawbacks of ESOs is that they can be complicated, and employees may not fully understand how they work. Additionally, ESOs can be risky, as the value of the company’s stock may decrease over time, leaving employees with worthless options.

ESOs also have expiration dates, which means that employees may need to exercise their options before they expire, or they will lose the opportunity to do so. Finally, taxes can be complicated for ESOs, as the value of the options and the eventual sale of the shares are subject to different tax treatments.


ESOs can be a valuable tool for both employers and employees. They offer employees an opportunity to share in the company’s success and align their interests with the company's. However, ESOs can be complicated, risky, and subject to significant tax implications.

Employers should consider whether ESOs are the right compensation strategy for their company and ensure that employees fully understand their work and the associated risks and tax implications.

For an employee, it may be incorrect to consider ESOs as a retirement planning strategy. You must also consider diversification through mutual funds. Explore a commission-free mutual fund investment experience with Fi Money. With its intuitive user interface and over 900 active mutual funds — Fi caters to seasoned and novice investors. EpiFi Wealth, a SEBI-registered investment advisor, powers Fi's investment feature.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is ESOP a part of CTC?

ESOPs (Employee Stock Option Plans) are not part of India's Cost to Company (CTC). CTC refers to an employer's total cost to employ a person, including salary, allowances, benefits, and taxes. ESOPs are a form of employee compensation that allows employees to purchase company stock at a discounted price.

2. What is the procedure for employee stock options?

The procedure for employee stock options typically involves granting of options, vesting of options, the exercise of options, and the sale of shares. Employees are granted options, which vest over time, giving them the right to buy company stock at a predetermined price. When the options are vested, employees can exercise them by paying the exercise price and receiving the shares. The shares can be held or sold in the market, with proceeds subject to capital gains tax.


Fi Money is not a bank; it offers banking services through licensed partners and investment services through epiFi Wealth Pvt. Ltd. and its partners. This post is for information only and is not professional financial advice.
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