Quantifying the Personal Income Tax Benefits of Backdating: A Canada - US Comparison
42 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2010 Last revised: 3 Jul 2012
Date Written: May 28, 2010
This paper examines the pre- and post-tax returns to Canadian and US executives who receive backdated stock options (that appear to be at-the-money options) compared to currently-dated in-the-money options. We begin by comparing the Black-Scholes value of backdated at-the-money options to currently-dated in-the-money options (with the same strike price as the back-dated options). We then contrast the pre- and post-tax returns of such options on the assumption that the options are eventually exercised at a time when the options are in-the-money and the shares sold (either immediately or later) at a profit. We demonstrate that a Canadian executive can earn a significantly larger after-tax return from backdated options compared to a US executive due to the favourable Canadian tax treatment of executive options relative to their treatment in the United States. The comparison suggests that the personal tax regime may have had an impact on the desire to receive backdated options in lieu of other forms of compensation in Canada but not so in the United States.
Keywords: Executive compensation, stock options, personal income tax
JEL Classification: H24, H26, J33, J38, K34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation