Exploring Especia equity’s 409A Valuation Process

Exploring Especia equity’s 409A Valuation Process

A 409A valuation is a third-party, independent appraiser's estimate of the fair market value of a private company's common shares. One of the "safe harbour" techniques of assessing fair market value outlined in the tax code is to obtain a 409A assessment from an independent assessor.

A 409A valuation is essentially an estimate of the fair market value of your start-up’s common shares.

It's simple to view the particular pricing at any given time of day with publicly traded stock. On the other hand, private business stock requires an independent assessment to determine its value.

Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code is the source of the 409A name.

Requirement of the Law:

Simply put, the law requires a 409A assessment. To guarantee that your organization is in compliance, you'll need a 409A valuation.

Noncompliance can lead to disastrous results. Stock option undervaluation can result in significant IRS penalties and missed compensation.

When is it needed: There are two situations when a 409A valuation is required if you want to offer common stock options.

  • Once every twelve months.
  • When your company completes a new round of funding.

Influencing Factors to the 409A Valuation:

A 409A is essentially an evaluation. Firms will typically use one of the following ways to appraise fair market value to ascertain this:

  • An examination of comparable private and public companies and transactions using a market perspective.
  • A review of a company's free cash flows to develop estimates for the following five years is known as the income approach.
  • An examination of a company's tangible and intangible assets is known as an asset approach.

Options to get 409A Valuation:

To obtain a 409A value report, you have three options:

Make it happen on your own- Because there is no "safe harbour" protection if the IRS gets involved, this is the riskiest of the three options. That means you must demonstrate that your estimate is correct. You may save money by doing things yourself, but you may also make blunders. Leave it to a professional unless you have the necessary knowledge and education to complete a 409A.

Make use of the software- This is also a risky move. Only some early-stage firms are qualified (for example, if you don't have continuous income, haven't funded $500,000, aren't within 180 days of an IPO or 90 days of acquisition, and have less than $100,000 in assets).

Hiring any firm that provides safe harbour protection, paying for a 409A is the least hazardous choice. That implies the IRS (rather than you) now bears the burden of proving that your valuation is incorrect. You'll need to select an independent firm that is competent and experienced, as well as one that has the necessary education and a strong reputation.

Process and Time Taken by 409A Valuation Process:

  • Return your data (within 1-3 days): Your cap table, articles of incorporation, financial projections, term sheets, and previous 409A reports will all be included.
  • Run the report (it should take 10-20 days): Expect to pay between $1,000 and $3,000 if you want your value done quickly.
  • Examine the first copy (15 min-1 hour).
  • Modifications (1-2 days).
  • The final report has been delivered (1-10 days).

Pros of having a 409A Valuation:

You are establishing an unbiased baseline of your stock's worth by acquiring a 409A valuation for your start-common-up’s shares. By achieving this valuation, your other founders, employees, and board members will be able to enjoy the benefits of acquiring ownership without having to worry about possible IRS fines.

Annual 409A valuations are beneficial as your firm grows, in addition to guaranteeing your employees. You're constructing a paper trail of your company's growth by completing reasonable evaluations over time, demonstrating your compliance to the IRS if they ever come calling.

As an early-stage founder, you can ensure your team (and the IRS) that your business conforms with federal law by offering early and top personnel stock options that will continue to increase in value, much like your start-up, by recognizing the importance of a 409A valuation.

Cons of not having a 409A Valuation:

If you don't price your stock options, the IRS will consider you to be giving away something valuable. This could result in significant tax consequences.

Option holders who are found to violate Section 409A must pay taxes, plus a 20% federal penalty, any applicable state penalties, an IRS tax underpayment penalty, and any unpaid tax interest.

The IRS is unlikely to conduct a 409A audit of most companies. However, if your business succeeds and begins to make money, an IRS audit becomes more likely. This is going to be costly and time-consuming.

Furthermore, the Securities and Exchange Commission, which closely monitors pre-IPO stock awards, is likely to question you.

Limitations if you have 409A:

After the effective date, it remains valid for a maximum of 12 months.

Basic Rules for following Section 409A:

  1. Elections to defer: - With limited exceptions, a choice to defer remuneration must be made in the calendar year before the year in which the relevant services are provided.
  2. Permitted Distributions: - Once compensation has been delayed, it can only be distributed if one of the following situations occurs: separation from service, a specific date, a change in control, your death, disability, or an unanticipated emergency. Each of those phrases is defined in great detail in Section 409A.
  3. Waiting for 6 months: - Specified public company employees who are entitled to distributions after separation from service must wait six months to collect them.
  4. No change in the form of payment and time: - Compensation cannot be further accelerated or deferred once an amount has been deferred and the distribution event has been chosen.
  5. Penalties: - Any violation of Section 409A results in immediate income tax on deferred sums, as well as a 20% penalty tax and any relevant penalties for the service provider (e.g., the employee). This tax and penalty are imposed on you, the participant, rather than the employer.

Especia Equity Valuation Services:

Though DCF, Income-based Valuation is also widely used in the real world. Our skilled team assures that our results closely reflect a buyer or seller's price paid or received. We recognize that business valuation services rely heavily on forecasts and assumptions, and our staff makes every effort to use true and accurate assumptions.

Regulatory agencies such as SEBI, RBI, and the Internal Revenue Service and third parties such as auditors rely on us for accounting and reporting.

It can be segregated as follows:-

  • Business when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, valuation is crucial.
  • Valuation at the time of the company's purchase or sale,
  • Minority shareholders and Joint Venture Partners receive valuation guidance.
  • "Expert Witness" valuation.
  • In India, valuation is done for regulatory compliance purposes such as RBI, FDI, and FEMA.
  • Valuation for financial reporting purposes, ensuring IND AS and IFRS compliance (wherever applicable).
  • Private equity and venture capital companies are valued.
  • India's Registered Valuer Services.
  • In India, merchant banker valuations.


Simply put, the law requires a 409A assessment. To guarantee that your organization complies, you'll need a 409A valuation. Non-compliance can lead to disastrous results. Stock option undervaluation can result in significant IRS penalties and missed compensation.

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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