One of the biggest sleeper issues (in my opinion) for US companies when granting equity awards to non-US employees or other service providers is the fact that their heirs may be assessed with US estate tax and be required to file an estate tax return in the US if the individual dies while holding equity awards or shares.
US Estate Tax Exemptions
Individual US taxpayers (i.e., US citizens and non-US citizens who are domiciled in the US) can currently benefit from a significant estate tax exemption: no estate tax is due unless the value of the estate exceeds US$13,610,000 (this is the inflation-adjusted amount for 2024), reduced for taxable lifetime gifts, but doubled for married couples if both spouses’ estates qualify for the exemption. Accordingly, relatively few US estates currently are subject to estate tax. In any event, US employees and their heirs will most likely be well aware of possible estate tax consequences for their assets, including equity awards and shares acquired under a company share plan.Continue Reading A Cautionary Tale: US Estate Tax May be Due on Equity Awards/Shares Held by Non-US Residents