Is there any reporting necessary if I received no income?

March 23, 2005

Subject:   question on expercising underwater options
Date:   Fri, 04 Mar 2005
From:   Dan

Your web site has some excellent tax advice on some very complex topics and I thank you for having such wonderful information freely available.

I’ve got a question that I haven’t seen answered anywhere, so I thought you might want to add this to your FAQ.

Last year, I held expiring NQSOs in a privately-held Canadian firm. Despite the FMV being less than my exercise price, I chose to exercise my options because I expect the shares to be worth more if and when the company goes public. The company didn’t send me any document for income to be reported.

Is there anything to report when the FMV is less than the option price? Is there negative income?



Hello Dan,

No. You only report income when the fair market value of the stock exceeds the option price. There is nothing to report when you exercise an “underwater” option. Couldn’t you have made a private purchase of the stock from somebody as an alternative to buying the stock for more than FMV?

Good luck!

Mike Gray

For more information about non-qualified stock options, request our free report, “Executive Tax and Financial Planning For Non-Qualified Stock Options”.

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