All About Stock Appreciation Rights SARs

If the company is performing well financially, stock appreciation rights can be used to give bonuses to employees and management. This is known as a "plan". Stock appreciation rights are similar to employee stock options in which the employee receives an increase in stock prices. Although it looks a lot like options it is not required that employees pay the exercise price. They get the stock or cash increase.

Stock appreciation rights, or share appreciation rights, allow you to cash in on the stock's price rises over a certain time. Stock appreciation rights are often offered by employers in conjunction with stock options. These stock appreciation rights are known as tandem stock appreciation rights.

Stock appreciation rights can be transferred and are subject to clawback provisions. Clawback provisions are situations in which employees may be able to receive some or all of their income under the plan. If an employee is moving to another company, for example, the company may take back the bonus. Employees are often granted stock appreciation rights, according to a vesting schedule that links them with company performance goals.

The Benefits and Drawbacks Of SARs

Stock appreciation rights have a significant advantage in that they require very little money to be exercised for cash. The proceeds are paid to the employee, so they don't have to pay the share price. Flexibility is the next major advantage. Stock appreciation rights can be arranged by companies to meet the needs of different employees. Individual choices are required to achieve this flexibility. Stock appreciation rights are awarded to employees who decide whether they would like to receive them. They also determine the amount of the bonus, the liquidity of the SARs, and the vesting rules.

Stock appreciation rights are preferred by employees because of the traditional accounting rule. Fixed accounting treatment is preferred over variable. The share appreciation rights lessen the share price and allow for the issuance of fewer shares. Employees are motivated and retained by share appreciation rights.

Although it has many benefits, share appreciation rights are a high-risk type of employee compensation. SARs are canceled if the stock of the company isn't performing well.

Taxation for SARs

Stock appreciation rights can be taxed in the same way as non-qualified stock options. There are no tax consequences for stock appreciation rights, regardless of when they become vested or at the grant date. Participants should remember that ordinary income is earned on the spread at time of exercise. Employers usually give a set number of shares to employees and then take back any remaining shares to pay the tax. The cost basis is the income earned upon exercising shares.

Similarity to phantom stock

SARs are very similar in appearance to phantom stocks. Phantom stocks had stock splits and dividends, but that is the difference. Phantom stock is a reward for an employee in the form of either the company's share value or the amount that the stock price has increased over a certain time. When an employee receives a phantom bonus, it is treated as ordinary income. Phantom stocks might pay dividends, while SARs wouldn't.


You could retain your share appreciation rights if you retire. For more information, you should consult your employer. There are also special rules in the event that you leave the company. In this instance, it is a good idea to consult your employer. In the event of your death your vested SARs will be transferred to your designated beneficiary.

You can check different scenarios using the Stock appreciation rights summary screen modeling tool. This tool can also be used to calculate the tax you might owe on an exercise.

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