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Companies reap benefits of executive stock options via big tax savings

It's no secret that it's great to be a top executive.

Well, it's also not so bad to be the company offering some of those top-level employee perks.

Corporations that granted executives unusually large packages of stock options shortly after the market collapsed three years ago are now beginning to benefit, too, in the form of tax savings, reports the New York Times.

"Thanks to a quirk in tax law, companies can claim a tax deduction in future years that is much bigger than the value of the stock options when they were granted to executives. This tax break will deprive the federal government of tens of billions of dollars in revenue over the next decade. And it is one of the many obscure provisions buried in the tax code that together enable most American companies to pay far less than the top corporate tax rate of 35 percent — in some cases, virtually nothing even in very profitable years."

Opponents of this corporate tax break argue that it's bad policy to let companies claim such large deductions for stock options without having to make any cash outlay.

More to the point for those of us without options, the tax provision essentially forces taxpayers to subsidize executive pay.

Critics of this corporate write-off say the tax inequity has been magnified now that executives -- and their employers -- are reaping inordinate benefits by taking advantage of once depressed stock prices.

Just add this to the lists maintained by Occupy Wall Street protesters and tax reform advocates.

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