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However, under the new FAS 123R, the expense is based on the fair market value on the grant date, such that even at-the-money options have to be expensed.) Because backdating is typically not reflected properly in earnings, some companies that have recently admitted to backdating of options have restated earnings for past years. The exercise price affects the basis that is used for estimating both the company's compensation expense for tax purposes and any capital gain for the option recipient.

Thus, an artificially low exercise price might alter the tax payments for both the company and the option recipient.

In other words, there seem to be an awful lot of people around Steve Jobs who have allegedly had problems linked to the backdating of stock options. Jobs is the prodigal son credited with saving Apple, which he co-founded in 1976 with Steve Wozniak, by turning a then-struggling Silicon Valley icon into a consumer-electronics powerhouse after his triumphant return in 1996.

The turnaround was masterful; in fact, it's now the subject of business-school case studies.

The Wall Street Journal (see discussion of article below) pointed out a CEO option grant dated October 1998.

The number of shares subject to option was 250,000 and the exercise price was (the trough in the stock price graph below.) Given a year-end price of , the intrinsic value of the options at the end of the year was (-) x 250,000 = ,750,000.

The move came almost exactly a year after the SEC filed similar charges against former Apple CFO Fred Anderson and former general counsel Nancy Heinen.Further, at-the-money options are considered performance-based compensation, and can therefore be deducted for tax purposes even if executives are paid in excess of

The move came almost exactly a year after the SEC filed similar charges against former Apple CFO Fred Anderson and former general counsel Nancy Heinen.

Further, at-the-money options are considered performance-based compensation, and can therefore be deducted for tax purposes even if executives are paid in excess of $1 million (see Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code).

However, if the options were effectively in-the-money on the decision date, they might not qualify for such tax deductions.

Most shareholder approved option plans prohibit in-the-money option grants (and thus, backdating to create in-the-money grants) by requiring that option exercise prices must be no less than the fair market value of the stock on the date when the grant decision is made. For example, because backdating is used to choose a grant date with a lower price than on the actual decision date, the options are effectively in-the-money on the decision date, and the reported earnings should be reduced for the fiscal year of the grant.

(Under APB 25, the accounting rule that was in effect until 2005, firms did not have to expense options at all unless they were in-the-money.

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The move came almost exactly a year after the SEC filed similar charges against former Apple CFO Fred Anderson and former general counsel Nancy Heinen.Further, at-the-money options are considered performance-based compensation, and can therefore be deducted for tax purposes even if executives are paid in excess of $1 million (see Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code).However, if the options were effectively in-the-money on the decision date, they might not qualify for such tax deductions.Most shareholder approved option plans prohibit in-the-money option grants (and thus, backdating to create in-the-money grants) by requiring that option exercise prices must be no less than the fair market value of the stock on the date when the grant decision is made. For example, because backdating is used to choose a grant date with a lower price than on the actual decision date, the options are effectively in-the-money on the decision date, and the reported earnings should be reduced for the fiscal year of the grant.(Under APB 25, the accounting rule that was in effect until 2005, firms did not have to expense options at all unless they were in-the-money.This made me think about the possibility that some of the grants had been backdated.I further found that the overall stock market performed worse than what is normal immediately before the grants and better than what is normal immediately after the grants.ESOs are usually granted at-the-money, i.e., the exercise price of the options is set to equal the market price of the underlying stock on the grant date.Because the option value is higher if the exercise price is lower, executives prefer to be granted options when the stock price is at its lowest.But as yet another executive who was once close to Jobs comes under the backdating cloud, one has to wonder: Is Jobs as innocent as Apple Inc. Or is the government afraid to go after one of the most respected leaders of American business? You can put him up there with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett," said Peter Henning, a professor who studies white-collar crime at Wayne State University in Detroit and one of the few legal scholars still paying attention to stock-options backdating."If you are going to put a case against him, you had better be sure it's a strong case." To be sure, regulators have in the past gone after celebrity business leaders.

million (see Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code).However, if the options were effectively in-the-money on the decision date, they might not qualify for such tax deductions.Most shareholder approved option plans prohibit in-the-money option grants (and thus, backdating to create in-the-money grants) by requiring that option exercise prices must be no less than the fair market value of the stock on the date when the grant decision is made. For example, because backdating is used to choose a grant date with a lower price than on the actual decision date, the options are effectively in-the-money on the decision date, and the reported earnings should be reduced for the fiscal year of the grant.(Under APB 25, the accounting rule that was in effect until 2005, firms did not have to expense options at all unless they were in-the-money.This made me think about the possibility that some of the grants had been backdated.I further found that the overall stock market performed worse than what is normal immediately before the grants and better than what is normal immediately after the grants.ESOs are usually granted at-the-money, i.e., the exercise price of the options is set to equal the market price of the underlying stock on the grant date.Because the option value is higher if the exercise price is lower, executives prefer to be granted options when the stock price is at its lowest.But as yet another executive who was once close to Jobs comes under the backdating cloud, one has to wonder: Is Jobs as innocent as Apple Inc. Or is the government afraid to go after one of the most respected leaders of American business? You can put him up there with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett," said Peter Henning, a professor who studies white-collar crime at Wayne State University in Detroit and one of the few legal scholars still paying attention to stock-options backdating."If you are going to put a case against him, you had better be sure it's a strong case." To be sure, regulators have in the past gone after celebrity business leaders.

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