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限制性股票激励和受限股票单位的区别

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Illustration of floating words, RSa vs RSU

我们的世界充满了这些恼人的“TLA”(三字母缩写)——而其中有些缩写尤其容易引起混淆。

在员工持股方面,最容易引起混淆的缩写词是限制性股票激励(RSA)受限股票单位(RSU)

因此,我们从头说起。

虽然限制性股票激励和受限股票单位有关联,均属于限制性股票,但两者是非常不同的概念。

限制性股票激励和受限股票单位对比(概要)

限制性股票激励(RSA)是一种授予,允许您有权以公平市场价值、折扣价或免费购买股票。

受限股票单位是一种以公司股票价值计算的授予,但在限制条件得到满足或股票兑现之前,您实际上不会拥有股票。一旦满足这些条件,您即可收取计划规则中规定的股票或现金。

两者在法律和税务合规方面也存在区别。

  • 由于限制性股票激励是在授予日购买,因此参与限制性股票激励计划的员工,须自授予日起缴纳税款。受限股票单位不能购买,因此纳税将推迟到限制期届满后授予股票时。
  • 限制性股票激励计划,通常会设置时限兑现条件。受限股票单位则会对员工取得股票设置多项兑现条件。
  • 离职:未兑现的限制性股票激励将在员工解聘时被回购。未兑现的受限股票单位将立即被公司收回。
  • 限制性股票激励有资格参加83(b)选择。受限股票单位没有资格参加83(b)选择,在兑现时须纳税。

最后,与限制性股票激励不同,受限股票单位发放可能会推迟到未来日期。

这意味着员工必须在兑现时支付由雇主决定的法定最低税额。所有其他税额的支付可以推迟到分配之时/您实际收到股票(您同样也选择延迟收取股票)或现金等价物时(同样,这也取决于公司员工持股计划的规定)。

RSAs and RSUs have small differences that make a big impact

限制性股票激励与受限股票单位——全面审视  


曾几何时,股票期权是激励员工的唯一手段,但近年来,限制性股票已成为一种越来越受欢迎的股权薪酬形式。这一趋势在成熟公司和初创公司中都变得很明显,雇主和创始人已注意到员工持股与工作业绩的正相关性,并据此制定或调整薪酬战略。

但这并不意味着只需考虑此项依据,然后做出决定:“好的,我们就选择限制性股票。” 真要是那样,本文会比现在短得多! 情况并非如此。如果某公司希望制定或更新股权激励战略,采用限制性股票能够解决一些问题,也会引入新问题。例如,应该选择限制性股票激励(RSA)还是受限股票单位(RSU)来替代股票期权?

两者有相似之处又有不同,不能一概而论。如果您是一个着眼于机遇的雇主,那么在决定哪一种最适合您公司和您员工情况之前,您必须弄清两者之间的区别。

 

限制性股票对比股票期权

首先,我们来回答“限制性股票是什么意思?”,并说明这类股票与传统的股票期权有何不同。期权让您有权以固定价格购买特定数量的股票,但在您行使该权利并付款之前,您不会拥有这些股票。而在多数情况下,限制性股票从发放那一刻起就归您所有。然而,事情到此并没有结束;否则的话,限制性股票作为激励员工的工具对雇主而言的吸引力就要大打折扣了。此种股票具有“限制性”,因为还有附加条件,分为限制性股票激励和受限股票单位两种。员工需要满足时间条件、特定绩效目标或企业其他关键活动完成后,方能获得股票或自行出售。

再来看期权:如果市场价格低于约定的执行价格,则股票期权就会变得一文不值,最终可能会因无人认购过期。此外,假设您在某一时刻行使了期权,如果市场价值随后跌破了执行价格,您不得不等待价值再次上升,然后才能通过出售股票获利。你可能会很不走运才会赶上这两种情形之一,但可能性始终存在。

然而,限制性股票不一样。股票期权最后可能一文不值,但限制性股票激励和受限股票单位通常不会遇到此问题。这两种限制性股票保证你可以立即或在将来获得股票,无需成本或只需极低成本。除非公司破产,股票兑现后总会具有一定价值。

 

什么是限制性股票激励?

限制性股票激励是发放给您的实际股票,但在兑现之前不能出售。股票兑现通常与时限条款和/或清算挂钩,如首次公开募股或公司被收购。股票兑现时限条件对股票接受者具有一定约束,被授予股票的员工必须保留这些股票,直到约定时间才能兑现。

此外,取决于授予的性质,即使员工从授予日起即“拥有”这些股票,但仍可能必须购买股票方可完成交易。更具体来说,这可能包括三种形式:员工有权以合理市价(FMV)、以折扣价或免费购得股票。

通常情况下,初创公司的早期员工会在第一轮股权融资之前(此时普通股的FMV非常低)获得RSA。如果向员工提供与授予日普通股FMV挂钩的限制性股票激励,则对员工的吸引力之一在于:如果企业获得成功,授予股票价值会随时间的推移而增加,这意味着其股票价值在兑现时将超过员工最初支付的价值,并且可能高出很多。总之,这在激励初创公司员工方面可能非常有效。

 

什么是受限股票单位?

选择限制性股票激励,员工可以立刻获得股票;而受限股票单位则是在未来某个时候(即“兑现日”)将股票分配给某人的一种承诺,前提是满足一定的条件,这通常与在公司留任和/或实现指定的绩效目标相关联。

另一个关键区别是,接受者需要支付一定金额来获得限制性股票激励,但这不适用于受限股票单位(除了纳税义务之外,下文将详述)。如果员工满足了开始时设定的受限股票单位附加条件,那么公司将完成分配这些股份的过程——实际上就是履行最初的承诺。

因此,限制性股票激励对初创公司更合理,而受限股票单位对于成熟公司更有意义。限制性股票激励对员工的吸引力之一是有可能通过FMV的大幅上涨而获益。我们可以很容易想见初创企业中出现这样的情形。对成熟和成功公司来说,股价可能已经很高,进一步上涨的空间可能有限(并且始终存在下跌风险,这取决于企业的具体情况),因此在这种情况下,员工对限制性股票激励兴趣不大。

 

兑现和限制性股票

兑现是指经过一段时间后获得股票的过程。如上所述,限制性股票激励和受限股票单位的股票兑现情况可能完全不同。 

要记住,您获得限制性股票激励股票授予后,您就是其合法所有者,因此,只有当员工离开公司时(无论是员工自己选择离职还是被解雇)才会涉及到股票兑现的相关问题。企业为了自我保护,会对限制性股票激励的股票授予设置兑现日期。根据这些条款,雇主可能有权回购离职员工的股票。这一条款主要是为了防止出现这样的情况:员工可能在加入公司并获得限制性股票激励授予后立即跳槽。

受限股票单位在这一点上明显不同。在此种奖励中,您最初获得的是在未来某一时刻获得股票的承诺,而不是预先获得股票。因此在满足各种兑现条件之前,股票不会正式分发给接受者。如前所述,典型条件将围绕基于时间的兑现、业绩目标,甚至清算条件,其中后者意味着股票只有在首次公开募股或企业被另一家公司收购后才会兑现。如果有多个兑现条件,员工必须在满足所有条件后才能获得股票。

 

员工解聘时如何处理?

限制性股票激励和受限股票单位在员工解聘时的主要区别,在于未兑现股票的处理。如果您持有限制性股票激励,则当时已兑现股票已经100%归您所有,但公司有权回购任何未兑现股票,而且通常以接受人支付时的价格回购。公司可以选择行使或不行使回购权,但我们要知道的重要一点是,公司有权做出选择。

持有受限股票单位而终止雇佣合同的员工仍然可以保留已兑现股票,但未兑现股票的情况可能会复杂一些。由于附加多重兑现条件的情况并不罕见,因此,可能出现时间条件得到满足,但公司IPO或被收购的条件未得到满足的情况。这可能是一个灰色地带,因为一些公司可能会让终止雇佣合同的员工继续持有到期兑现的股票,即使其他条件尚未满足;但有些公司可能会选择不这样做。有一点非常明确,那就是在雇佣合同终止时未到兑现时间的股票将被没收。

 

税收方面有何区别?

这涉及两种税收——普通所得税和资本利得税(CGT)。

正如在兑现条件和雇佣合同终止的影响方面存在区别一样,限制性股票激励和受限股票单位在税收方面也有不同。

限制性股票激励:所得税在兑现日到期,这也是所实施的任何限制条件到期之时。在此时,纳税义务将基于兑现时的FMV和授予时支付的每股价格(如果有)之间的差价进行评估。

因此,如果员工在授予时按每股2美元支付,而该股票在兑现时的FMV为10美元,则应税收益为8美元(10美元减去2美元)。如果该员工出售这些股票以获取利润,则这些利润(相对于股票兑现时的FMV)需要缴纳资本利得税。那么,将此假设示例加以延伸,如果这位员工以15美元的价格出售股票,则此交易中的每股5美元利润(15美元减去10美元)将被征收资本利得税。

其中的主要潜在陷阱应该不难识别。所得税在兑现时到期,但这些股票的价值可能随后暴跌,甚至变得实际上一文不值。您仍然需要支付在兑现时到期的税款,但最坏的情况是,您可能会发现自己因此蒙受巨大损失。一旦支付了限制性股票激励的税款,就不会有任何退款,无论随后的股价发生怎样的变化。

值得庆幸的是,有一个方法可以解决这个问题——83(b)选择。

根据这一条款,您可以选择预先支付所有普通所得税。乍一看,这似乎不是一个有吸引力的方案,但它实际上可以带来很大的不同。这种方法行之有效的关键在于,当您选择执行83(b)条款时,应税收益通常为零。应税收益的税额是雇员在授予时为股票支付的金额与股票在当时的FMV之间的差额。因此,如果员工按每股2美元支付,FMV是2美元,则没有应税收益。

此时,即使在兑现时FMV是10美元(如我们此处的例子),也无需缴纳额外的所得税,因为根据83(b)条的规定,税额已全部预缴,即使这意味着纳税额为零。

然而,这对CGT有影响。我们继续使用刚才的数据,如果员工后来以15美元的价格出售股票,CGT义务将根据授予时的FMV和出售价格(而不是兑现时的FMV)之间的差额进行评估。因此,这就意味着CGT估值为每股13美元(15美元减去2美元)。

尽管如此,这种做法的好处仍然显著,因为CGT税率远低于普通所得税税率,这意味着最终税额将远低于没有选择83(b)条款的情形。而且,您还可以抢得先机,避免为不能出售的流动性差的股票纳税。

受限股票单位:受限股票单位的所得税情况与限制性股票激励相似,但不提供83(b)选择。

但二者有一个关键区别。记住,限制性股票激励在一开始就向接受人授予股票,而受限股票单位是一种承诺,公司将在兑现条件得到满足的情况下向员工授予股票。这种区别的实际效果是,它可导致受限股票单位持有人在兑现时承担更大的所得税税额。

因此,在这种情况下,员工在被授予受限股票单位时无需纳税,但有义务按兑现时的全额FMV缴纳所得税。因此,如果FMV在兑现时为10美元,则纳税义务将根据该价格计算。

这两种情形的关键区别在于(除83(b)选择之外),限制性股票激励接受人可以从兑现时的纳税义务中减除授予时支付的价格,而对RSU持有人则没有这样的条款,因为他们在兑现之前并不拥有这些股票。

CGT的处理方法也与此相同:纳税义务是根据股票出售所获收益与兑现时的FMV进行比较而计算得出。

如前所述,受限股票单位的股票兑现通常会附加多个条件。对某种清算事件的要求即有可能是其中之一。从税收角度看,这将产生一种特定的纳税义务。所以,如果员工决定在时间条件清算条件满足时,兑现并出售受限股票单位,他们将按当时的全额股票价值缴纳所得税,而不是在兑现时缴纳所得税,然后再针对利润缴纳CGT。根据我们到目前为止在示例中使用的数据,这意味着如果兑现时的FMV是10美元,员工随后以15美元出售,所得税将根据15美元价值进行评估,CGT被视为不适用。

 

概要——限制性股票激励对比受限股票单位

以下是限制性股票激励和受限股票单位的关键区别:

·        限制性股票激励在授予日购买,而受限股票单位不能购买。

·        限制性股票激励通常有基于时间的兑现条件,而受限股票单位往往设有多个条件,而且在满足所有条件之前,接受人通常不会拥有股票。

·        如果终止雇佣合同,公司将有权回购任何未兑现的限制性股票激励,而任何未满足时间兑现条件的受限股票单位将被没收。如果基于时间的条件得到满足,但其他条件仍在执行,则这些股票的处置将由公司自行决定。

·        限制性股票激励有资格参加83(b)选择,这可大幅减少税额,而受限股票单位没有资格,并将在兑现时纳税。

除此之外,以下几点也值得记住:

·        限制性股票激励在初创公司中更受欢迎,因为普通股的FMV较低,而且在薪酬方面很难与更成熟的对手展开竞争。

·        受限股票单位可以成为更成熟公司的较好选择。公司有成功记录意味着FMV较高,这将反过来要求更高的限制性股票激励执行价格,而这又将因此降低其吸引力。在这种情况下,选择受限股票单位则更为合理。

 

正如您现在可能猜到的那样,限制性股票可能是一个令人困惑的领域。有很多情况需要去思考,您会很容易在某一环节迷失方向。这就是Global Shares可以发挥作用之处,我们拥有股权薪酬领域方方面面的专业知识,可以随时为您所用。立即联系我们,详细了解我们如何能帮助您建立计划。

Graph showing RSA with

It shouldn’t be too difficult to identify the main potential pitfall here. Income tax becomes due at vesting, but the value of those shares may plummet after that and even become effectively worthless. You will still have had to pay the tax bill that became due at vesting, but – worst case scenario – you might find yourself bearing massive losses off the back of that. Once the taxes due on RSAs are paid, no refunds will be forthcoming, irrespective of what subsequently happen to the share price.

The good news is that there is a way around this issue – the 83(b) election.

 

RSAs and the Section 83b election

Under this provision, you can choose to pay all your ordinary income tax upfront. That might not seem like an attractive course of action at first glance, but in real terms, it can make a big difference. The key to why this works is that the taxable gain will usually be zero when you make an 83(b) election. Whatever taxable gain there is will be the difference between what the employee pays for the shares at the time of the grant and what the FMV of the shares is at that time. So, if the employee pays $2 per share and the FMV is $2, then there is no taxable gain.

From there, even if the FMV is $10 (as in our example here) at the time of vesting, no additional income tax liability falls due, because under 83(b) it has all been paid up front… even if that meant paying nothing.

However, there are implications for CGT. Sticking with the numbers we have been using, if the employee then goes on to sell the shares at $15, the CGT liability will be assessed on the difference between the FMV at grant and the sale price (as opposed to FMV at vesting). So, here, that would mean CGT assessed at $13 per share ($15-$2).

This still constitutes a big win, though, as the CGT rate will be much lower than the level set for ordinary income tax, meaning the ultimate bill will be far less than if you proceed without making an 83(b) election. And you also pre-empt the possibility of paying taxes on illiquid shares that cannot be sold.

How are RSUs taxed?

The income tax situation for RSUs is similar to that for RSAs, without the 83(b) election.

However, there is one key difference. Remember, RSAs grant shares to the recipient at the outset, whereas RSUs are a promise that the company will award shares to the employee down the line if the vesting conditions are met. The practical effect of that distinction is that it can leave the RSU holder liable for a bigger income tax bill at vesting.

So, in this scenario, an employee faces no tax bill when the RSU is granted, but will be liable for income tax on the full FMV at the point of vesting. Therefore, if the FMV is $10 at vesting, then the tax liability is calculated based on that figure.

The key difference in the two scenarios presented here being that – even aside from the 83(b) election – the recipient of an RSA will have whatever price they paid at grant time deducted from their tax liability at vesting, whereas no such provision can be put in place for RSU holders, as they don’t own the shares until the vesting moment.

CGT is handled identically, in that the liability is calculated based on whatever gain is secured on the share sale compared to the FMV at vesting.

As mentioned previously, it is common for there to be multiple conditions attached to the vesting of RSUs. A requirement for a liquidation event of some sort can be one such condition. From the taxation perspective, this creates a specific liability. So, if an employee decides to sell when their RSUs vest in this scenario – with time and liquidation conditions met – they will pay income tax on the full value of the shares at that point, rather than income tax at vesting and then CGT on any profit. Going with the numbers we have used in our examples up to now, that means if the FMV at vesting is $10 and the employee then sells at $15, the income tax liability will be assessed on the $15 value and CGT is deemed not to apply.

Choosing the right type of restricted stock can save you a lot of money

Difference between RSA and RSUs: Wrap-up

Some of the key points on which RSAs and RSUs differ:

  • RSAs are purchased on the grant date, where RSUs are not purchased.
  • RSAs will usually have time-based vesting conditions, whereas multiple conditions tend to apply to RSUs, and the recipient usually won’t own the shares until all conditions have been met.
  • Upon termination, the company will have the right to repurchase any unvested RSAs, whereas any RSUs that have not satisfied the time-based vesting condition will be forfeited. If the time-based condition has been met, but other conditions are still active, then what happens to those shares will be at the discretion of the company.
  • RSAs are eligible for 83(b) elections, which can see a tax bill greatly reduced, whereas RSUs are not eligible and will be taxed when they vest.

Beyond that, these points are also worth keeping in mind:

  • RSAs are more popular with early-stage companies when the FMV of common stock is low and it is difficult to compete with the more established competition on salaries.
  • RSUs can be a better fit for more established companies. When the company has a track record of success, that means a higher FMV, which will in turn demand a higher strike price for RSAs, which, in turn, will reduce their attractiveness. In that scenario, RSUs make more sense.

 

Which type of restricted stock is right for you?

As you may have guessed by now, restricted stock can be a confusing area. There is a lot to get your head around, and it is easy to lose your way somewhere along that path. That’s where Global Shares can come in, with our expertise in all equity compensation matters waiting to be put to work for your benefit. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you to set up your plan. 

 

Want to learn more about equity compensation?

If you’re looking to learn more about the different types of stock and how they work, check out our Equity Explained series. Whether you’re completely new to equity compensation or looking to improve your knowledge, we have a curated library of resources to help you learn all about the world of employee ownership.

Please Note: This publication contains general information only and Global Shares is not, through this article, issuing any advice, be it legal, financial, tax-related, business-related, professional or other. The Global Shares Academy is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be used as such. Global Shares does not assume any liability for reliance on the information provided herein.

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