Internal Revenue Code section 162(m) limits tax deductibility of executive compensation to $1 million per covered executive, with an exception for performance-based compensation. Both stock options and annual bonuses can qualify as performance-based, but they vary in the difficulty of qualification and the degree of additional compensation risk that qualification imposes on the executive. Most stock-option grants easily qualify with little change in risk, but qualification increases the risk associated with annual bonus compensation relative to what it was prior. The results of this study show that the propensity to issue stock options has increased for affected executives as a percentage of total compensation. Additional analysis suggests that this increase in stock-option compensation is substituting for lower increases in salary for affected executives, but not for annual cash bonuses. In fact, the results suggest that bonus compensation is also increasing as a percentage of total compensation. In summary, the results indicate that firms and their executives are acting in a way consistent with the incentives provided by section 162(m).
Balsam, S. and Ryan, D. (2008), "The effect of Internal Revenue Code section 162(m) on the issuance of stock options", Luttman, S. (Ed.) Advances in Taxation (Advances in Taxation, Vol. 18), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-28. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1058-7497(08)18001-2
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