Tax Reform Surprises and Strategies with the New 162(m) Rules
Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) previously limited the tax deduction to $1M annually for covered employee compensation paid by a company that is publicly traded, subject to some important exceptions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act modified the reach of Code Section 162(m) in several significant ways.
- Expanding the number of companies to which Section 162(m) will apply, including non-public companies that register debt or equity securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission, like foreign companies publicly traded through American depositary receipts (ADRs);
- Expanding the number of covered employees to five and including the chief financial officer, with a provision that any covered employee after 2016 permanently remains a covered employee;
- Eliminating performance-based and commission-based exceptions to the $1M deduction limit; and
- Grandfathering certain compensation provided under a written and binding agreement in effect on November 2, 2017, if no material changes are made to such agreement.
These changes will have a significant effect not just on performance-based compensation, but also on stock options, stock appreciation rights and even nonqualified deferred compensation plans and supplemental executive retirement plans.