An ESO grants the holder of the option a right, but not an obligation, to purchase shares of the corporation at a certain predetermined price. Essentially, a CCPC is a corporation that is resident in Canada, which is not controlled by non-residents or public corporations. Whether a corporation qualifies as a CCPC can sometimes get complicated because of the various definitions of control, and falls outside the scope of this article.
In general, when an employee stock option is issued, there are no related tax implications for either the employee or the employer. A tax benefit has not arisen, and therefore the employee is not subject to an income inclusion and the employer does not claim a related deduction. Upon exercising the stock option, non-CCPC employees have incurred a taxable benefit and it must be included in their income. The amount of the benefit to be included is equal to the fair market value of the shares purchased minus the amount paid by the employee to the corporation for the shares, and minus the amount if any paid by the employee to acquire the stock options.
This amount is includable under section 7 Income Tax Act employment income. Conversely, a CCPC employee does not have to include any benefit amount in their income when exercising an ESO; the inclusion is deferred until the employee disposes of the shares.
At that time, the CCPC employee must include the taxable benefit amount in their income, and must calculate any taxable capital gains, just as a non-CCPC employee would. The ability to defer is beneficial since no tax has to be paid at the time of exercise. Furthermore, the shares might then be sold at a time when there are capital losses to offset the capital gain.
This preferable tax treatment arises pursuant to the deduction under subparagraph 1 d of the Income Tax Act. This deduction applies if an employee meets four criteria:. If you require assistance with setting up a CCPC, drafting or implementing an employee stock option plan, or you would like advice on the current structure of your employee stock option plan, please contact one of our experienced tax lawyers.
It is only current at the posting date. It is not updated and it may no longer be current. It does not provide legal advice nor can it or should it be relied upon. All tax situations are specific to their facts and will differ from the situations in the articles.
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