Category: Benefits

Reviewing Compensation Arrangements for Employees Subject to U.S. Income Tax Before Year-End Could Avoid Costly Tax Penalties

We have written about this in the past [here], but the message bears repeating each year. It is easy to overlook that employment agreements, change-in-control agreements, and severance agreements with U.S. taxpayers frequently contain provisions that subject them to U.S. Internal Revenue Code Section 409A (“Section 409A”), and failure to comply can result in onerous tax...

A Reminder to Track Rule 701 Equity Awards to U.S. Residents

Canadian companies relying on Rule 701 under the Securities Act of 1933 to exempt their U.S. awards of stock options and other types of compensatory equity (such as RSUs and PSUs), need to track on an ongoing basis the amount of grants being made in the United States. If they anticipate that the aggregate dollar...

Common U.S. Securities Problems with Canadian Stock-Based Compensation Plans

We are frequently asked to review Canadian companies’ stock option, restricted share unit (RSU), performance share unit (PSU), deferred share unit (DSU), and other stock-based compensation plans for U.S. securities law purposes, because awards are expected to be made to U.S. residents. For companies that are cross-listed and file reports with the Securities and Exchange...

Common U.S. Tax Withholding and Reporting Errors with Respect to Certain RSUs

A Canadian company (the employer) historically has not issued equity-based awards to employees of its U.S. subsidiaries, but it now is considering doing so. Past posts have addressed potential U.S. income tax pitfalls and the need for careful review of the plan and award agreements prior to the grant of restricted stock units (RSUs) and...

Unexpected Risks of Early Exercise Incentive Stock Options

Canadian companies and their outside counsel occasionally ask about the ability to grant early exercise incentive stock options (“ISOs”) to limit the impact of the U.S. alternative minimum tax (“AMT”) to their U.S. employees. However, due to fairly counterintuitive U.S. federal tax regulations, structuring options in this manner may expose optionees to negative tax consequences...

RSU Awards to U.S. Taxpayers Require Careful Review Before Grant

Recently we blogged about pitfalls and potential adverse tax consequences for U.S. taxpayers with respect to deferred share unit awards that pay out following the participant’s termination of services. Read that blog entry here. But what about restricted share units (RSUs) that are subject to vesting based on continued service and that are settled/paid out...

DSU Plans Require Careful Review to Avoid Adverse U.S. Tax Treatment

A Canadian company is planning to adopt a deferred share unit plan (DSU plan) for its directors. Only one or two of its directors are U.S. citizens or U.S. residents (“U.S. Directors”). With only one or two U.S. Directors, you wonder whether it is important to consider U.S. tax implications. The answer is a resounding...

New Approach for the Assumption of Options in M&A

A Canadian SEC reporting company that looks to acquire a company with outstanding equity grants in the United States will frequently need to address the question: What alternatives are available for the assumption of the target’s outstanding options or other equity-based compensatory awards? Under U.S. law, both the grant of the equity award and the...