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What is Stock Compensation

11 Oct 2023

What is Stock Compensation?

  • Stock compensation in India refers to a method employed by companies to reward employees and executives by offering them shares or stock options as a part of their compensation packages.
  • This approach serves as a powerful incentive for employees to contribute to the company's growth and success, fostering alignment between their interests and those of shareholders. It motivates individuals to work towards increasing the company's stock value, ultimately benefiting both parties.

What are the Different Types of Stock Compensation?

  • Stock Options: Stock options grant employees the right to purchase company shares at a predetermined price, known as the exercise price. This price is often lower than the market price at the time of grant.
  • Restricted Stock Units (RSUs): RSUs represent a promise to deliver company shares to employees upon meeting specific vesting conditions. These units do not require employees to make any upfront purchases.
  • Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPPs): ESPPs enable employees to buy company shares at a discounted price through payroll deductions, typically during designated offering periods.
  • Performance Shares: Companies may award performance shares based on achieving predetermined performance goals, linking compensation directly to company performance metrics.

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What are the Pros and cons of Stock Compensation?


  • Incentivises Employees: Stock compensation motivates employees to commit to the company long-term, as they benefit from stock value appreciation.
  • Aligns Interests: It aligns the interests of employees with those of shareholders, as both gain from stock price increases.
  • Attracts Talent: Offering stock compensation helps companies attract and retain top talent in a competitive job market.


  • Dilution: The issuance of new shares to employees can dilute the ownership percentage of existing shareholders.
  • Complexity: Administering stock plans and accounting for stock compensation can be intricate and require expertise.
  • Market Dependence: The value of stock compensation is subject to fluctuations in the stock market, which can affect the actual worth of the awards.

What are the Tax Implications of Stock Compensation?

  • Tax on Stock Options: Taxation occurs at the time of exercise. Employees are liable for tax on the difference between the exercise price and the fair market value of the shares. 
  • Tax on RSUs: RSUs are taxed as perquisites at the time of vesting. The taxable value is the fair market value of the shares when they become vested.
  • Tax on ESPPs: Taxation occurs on the discount received when purchasing shares through ESPPs. This is considered a prerequisite.
  • Capital Gains Tax: When employees sell the acquired shares, capital gains tax applies to the profit, which is the difference between the selling price and the fair market value during vesting or purchase, as applicable.

Note: Tax implications can vary based on individual circumstances and any changes in Indian tax laws. 



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