New Economy accounting: Why are broad-based stock option plans so attractive?

Hess, Dieter ; Lüders, Erik

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-5451
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2000
The title of a journal, publication series: None
Publication language: English
Institution: Sonstige Einrichtungen > ZEW - Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung
MADOC publication series: Veröffentlichungen des ZEW (Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung) > ZEW Discussion Papers
Subject: 330 Economics
Classification: JEL: M41 G0 ,
Subject headings (SWD): USA , Steuer , Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
Abstract: Several studies indicate that stock option plans are becoming more and more a substantial part of compensation schemes in U.S. companies. This paper shows the tax implications and accounting rules for stock option plans. By comparison of the tax and accounting rules for different compensation schemes we show that the popularity of stock options may be mainly due to the U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (US-GAAP) which require no charge to earnings for specifically designed stock option plans if a company opts for footnote disclosure. Thus, for these companies the stated earnings are higher than their economical situations justify. Based on a case study of 20 companies out of the S&P 500 which rely heavily on employee stock options we arrive at the conclusion that the amount of hidden compensation cost can reach economically significant amounts. Since this topic seems to be widely neglected it is questionable whether stock prices reflect these hidden cost.
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