Difference between ESOP and Stock Option Plan

Difference between ESOP and Stock Option Plan

There’s a difference between ESOP and stock option plans are two common types of employee benefit plans. As a business owner, you can encourage your employees to participate in any of these employee stock plans.


Employee stock ownership plans are a type of qualified employee benefit plan, which means they qualify for tax benefits if certain standards are followed. A business establishes a trust fund for its employees. The corporation then makes a cash contribution to the trustor and simply gives shares to the trust. The trust can also borrow money to buy shares, with the company repaying the debt by making contributions to the trust. Company donations to the trust are tax-deductible up to a certain amount.

Once the trust has received the shares, they are distributed to at least all full-time employees' accounts (with some limited exceptions). They are then subject to vesting, and when employees leave the company, they obtain their shares. They can then sell them back to the corporation or on the open market if one exists.

An annual outside appraisal must determine the share price of closely held corporations. Employees own the shares through the trust, but closely held corporations can opt to control the trust's voting on nearly any subject.

Stock Option Plan

Staff with stock options can buy shares in their firm at a certain price (the grant price) for a set period after the option is given. Normally, option rights are subjected to vesting.

For example, in 1998, a corporation might provide an employee with the option to purchase 100 shares at the current value of $10 per share. This right vests in the employee over four years at a rate of 25% per year so that after the first year, the employee can exercise options on 25 shares. The exercise has a time limit, which is usually 10 years from the grant date. 

Incentive stock options (ISOs) and nonqualified stock options are the two basic types of options (NSOs). An ISO permits an employee to avoid paying tax on the "spread" between the grant and exercise price till the stock is sold, whether certain criteria are met. Taxes on capital gains would then be required.

On the other hand, the firm cannot claim a tax deduction for the spread. With just an NSO, the worker pays taxes on the spread as if it were wages, and the business can deduct the same amount.

Here we have listed down the difference between ESOP and stock option plan.

You wish to sell a portion of your business.

The difference between an ESOP and a stock option is that while ESOP allows owners of tightly held businesses to sell to an ESOP and reinvest the revenues tax-free, as long as the ESOP controls at least 30% of the business, as well as certain requirements, are met. The corporation can make purchases with tax-deductible funds. 

Stock options are ineffective in this situation. Staff is purchasing either new stock issued by the company or current stock at a discount. If they're purchasing existing stock, the seller is unlikely to accept the price.

You want your employees to put money into your company. 

ESOPs that allows individuals to buy stock under the plan are extremely rare. 

If fresh shares are purchased, the exercise of an option brings capital into the firm, but the shares are purchased at a discount. This is the difference between ESOP and stock options when it comes to putting money into your company.

You want to fund expansion 

An ESOP can take out a loan to purchase newly issued stock. The corporation uses this money to acquire other businesses, purchase new technology, or for any other corporate reason. The company repays the loan using pretax dollars by contributing to the ESOP. 

When employees exercise their stock options, they receive a cash injection, but only if they purchase new shares. However, this dilutes the power of other owners. Many corporations purchase back shares of stock in an amount equal to the number of options exercised, resulting in no new capital being brought in.

You want to keep your employees motivated. 

Employee ownership has been linked to significantly enhanced corporate performance in studies. Firms contribute financially significant amounts to the ESOP (at least 5% of annual salary), share corporate performance information, and include employees in work-level choices. 

Although there is little research on how employees react to alternatives, there is much anecdotal evidence that they inspire individuals. Although there is sound conceptual reason to believe that options would have the same effect as ESOPs, no actual data supports this claim.

You'd like to hire and keep a select group of employees. 

An ESOP does not allow for a degree of discretion in determining who receives how much ownership. Shares must be allocated based on relative compensation or a more level mechanism. It can't be done based on individual merit. 

Options allow you to assign as much or as little ownership to anybody you desire. Offering options has become a must in many businesses for attracting good individuals, or even any people.

You're looking for a low-cost, easy-to-implement strategy. 

ESOPs typically cost between $25,000 and $50,000 to set up and operate, at least $15,000 per year. These expenditures are almost always a fraction of the tax advantages provided by ESOPs, although this is not always the case. ESOPs are significantly more complicated to administer than other types of ownership schemes, necessitating the need for outside consultants.

Installing option plans is generally simple and inexpensive. If the company is closely owned, however, a method for determining a share price must be devised (in a closely held corporation, the annual appraisal is the highest recurring cost of an ESOP.); however, this can be done simply by the board. If the company is small, exercising the options may necessitate adherence to costly securities requirements.


There's a difference between ESOP and stock option plans; they have their own perks and are distinct approaches to offering employees equity rewards in a company, regardless of their variances. When an employee is given stock in the company, they are more likely to be happy, productive, and financially secure. However, if you're preparing to distribute shares in your company, make sure you maintain track of it. I know there's a difference between ESOP and stock option plans, but this will lead to one basic thing: employees' happiness, which will ultimately lead to productivity. 

If you are looking for any Employee stock option plan ESOP services or consultants in Noida, Delhi, Gurgaon or anywhere in India, write to us at accounts@especia.co.in. Or Call On :(+91)-9711021268 +91-9310165114

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