How much should I have withheld for my option exercise?

October 10, 2014

Subject:   Suggested Tax Rates for Exercising NQOs
Date:   Fri, 22 Jun 2007
From:   Valorie

Last year when I sold company options, not enough taxes were withheld and I had to write a big check to the IRS in April. When I asked how to avoid this, I was told to alert my company on the day I plan to exercise and tell them what percentage I wish to be taken out.

I know the percentage withheld for my exercise in 2006 was 25%. Should I tell them to withhold 35% for 2007, or perhaps an even higher amount?

The company was also unable to tell me the default withholding rate for my state, Georgia. Where can I find this information?

Thank you,


Date:   29 Jun 2007

Hello Valorie,

I found a 2007 employer withholding booklet at the Georgia Department of Revenue web site. On page 13, it says the withholding rate for bonuses and other compensation. It shows a sliding scale of withholding, with 6% applying when the annual income exceeds $15,000. The maximum Georgia state income tax rate for individuals is 6%, and it applies at a very low taxable income threshold.

I don’t have enough information to answer your question about what rate of tax to withhold for federal tax for the option exercise. 35% is probably fairly “safe”, but you can get a better answer by making a tax projection. A tax consultant can help you with this. It’s one of our tax planning services.

Best wishes,

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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