Is RSU Subjected To Double Tax?

Paying taxes can be a confusing process, especially regarding employment-related equity compensation plans. One of the most common questions individuals ask is whether they are subjected to double tax on their RSU (Restricted Stock Unit). This article will explore the complex topic of double taxation and how it applies to RSUs. We’ll discuss how taxes are applied to RSUs and the potential implications for taxpayers. By understanding the ins and outs of RSU taxation, individuals can make informed decisions about their retirement savings plans.

Stock Chart

Overview Of Restricted Stock Units

Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) are a form of stock-based compensation many public and large private companies offer. They are awarded to employees in lieu of salary or cash bonus and are subject to vesting conditions. Unlike stock options, RSUs don’t give employees the right to purchase shares at a discounted rate. Instead, they give the employee the right to receive a certain amount of company shares directly.

Regarding taxation, RSUs are treated differently than other types of equity compensation. Generally speaking, they are taxed upon vesting when their value is realized. Depending on an employee’s individual tax situation, RSUs may be subject to both federal and state income and social security taxes. This means that employees may pay taxes twice on their RSUs: once when they vest and again when they sell their vested shares.

Tax treatment Of RSUs

RSUs are a unique form of employee compensation subject to complicated taxation rules. As the recipient of RSUs, you will need to be aware of how your country’s tax laws will affect the gains from your RSU awards. Depending on the jurisdiction, RSUs may be subject to double taxation. In some countries, income taxes are applied during the tax year when the award is granted (grant date), and capital gains taxes are applied when it is sold at a future date. In other jurisdictions, only one type of tax applies. To avoid unnecessary taxation and penalties, knowing how your RSUs will be taxed in advance is important. Understanding the relevant laws and regulations can help ensure that you pay only what you are required to and don’t fall victim to any surprises come tax return time.

Double Taxation Of RSUs

RSUs, or Restricted Stock Units, are often subject to double taxation. When an RSU is granted to an employee, the employee will be taxed on the fair market value of the shares as taxable income on their form W-2. This is known as ordinary income taxation. Once the shares are vested and released to the employee, they become subject to capital gains tax when sold. This means that profits from the sale of RSUs can be subject to both ordinary income tax and capital gains tax.

Employees need to understand the implications of double taxation with RSUs before they vest and sell them. It can significantly reduce their overall return on investment if they do not consider how taxes may affect their profits. Employees should always consult a tax professional before making any decisions with their RSUs so they can better understand how much tax they may owe and make informed decisions about when to sell their shares for maximum benefit.

Strategies For Avoiding Double Taxation

The prospect of double taxation can be daunting to any taxpayer, particularly those with a large income. Fortunately, there are measures that individuals and corporations can take to minimize or even avoid double taxation. One such strategy for reducing double taxation’s impact is using the RSU sales proceeds to maximize your contribution to your 401K or IRA accounts to create a more diversified portfolio. Another way for those charitably inclined is through using tax-exempt entities such as donor-advised fund (DAF), trusts, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. Contributions to these entities are tax deductible in the funding year. These entities are typically exempt from paying taxes on profits or other income derived from their activities. Ultimately, taxpayers should consult with a qualified financial advisor and tax preparer to determine which strategies best suit their situation and maximize their potential savings from double taxation.

Final Considerations

RSUs are a great way to incentivize and reward employees for their hard work. However, it is important to consider the potential tax implications when using RSUs to avoid double taxation. Depending on the specific situation, there may be strategies available that can help reduce or avoid double taxation. For example, if the RSUs are held for more than one year after the vesting date, it is generally taxed at long-term capital gains instead of ordinary income rates. It is also important to keep in mind that taxes must be paid on RSUs when they vest, regardless of whether they are sold immediately or not.

Ultimately, understanding how RSUs are taxed and exploring possible strategies to reduce or avoid double taxation can help ensure a smooth transition into retirement and maximize wealth. Through careful planning and consideration, it may be possible to minimize the tax bill associated with RSUs while still reaping all the benefits of this type of compensation plan.


In conclusion, Restricted Stock Units are a popular form of equity compensation, but they come with tax implications. It is important to understand how RSUs work and the potential tax implications when receiving them. To avoid double taxation, it is best to structure the RSU grant to minimize the tax liability due upon vesting. Additionally, there are other ways to reduce the tax burden associated with RSUs, such as timing the sale appropriately. By understanding these tax implications, you can help ensure that your RSU grant does not have an unnecessarily large impact on your finances.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Restricted Stock Units Work In Relation To Taxation?

Restricted stock units (RSUs) are a form of compensation offered to employees by their employers in lieu of cash payments. RSUs are taxed differently than regular stock options, as they are subject to taxation at the time of vesting rather than when they are sold. After an RSU has vested, the employee must pay taxes on the difference between the security’s market value at that time and any amount paid for it. Depending on an individual’s specific tax situation, this may result in double taxation if some taxes were paid at the time of vesting and then again when the RSU is sold.

Are Restricted Stock Units Subject To Capital Gains Taxes?

Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) are a form of compensation given to corporate employees that may be subject to capital gains taxes. When an RSU is granted, the employee receives the right to receive shares of company stock at some point in the future. When the stock vests, the employee can choose to keep it and pay any associated taxes, or they can sell it and pay taxes based on the difference between the sale price and their cost basis. Employees need to understand their options regarding RSUs to make informed decisions about handling them.

What Are The Tax Implications Of Receiving Restricted Stock Units?

Receiving restricted stock units (RSUs) comes with a few tax considerations. Generally, these include taxes due when the RSU is vested, any capital gains taxes that may be incurred as the stock price appreciates, and potential double taxation if the company pays a dividend on the underlying shares. To avoid surprises at tax return time, it’s important to understand how much you’ll owe and when the payments are due.

Updated on May 1st, 2023
by Kelvin Lee

I’m an experienced banking professional specializing in stopping financial crimes like money laundering.

Similar Posts