Facebook employees with rich equity stakes will face multi-million-dollar tax bills after Facebook's IPO -- even if they don't sell a single share.But Facebook pioneered a new form of employee equity using "restricted stock units" (RSUs) that don't turn into actual stock until there's a "liquidity event" -- in this case, the company's IPO.
The most populous U.S. state’s $91.3 billion budget, signed by Governor Jerry Brown in June, counted on $1.9 billion in income-tax revenue from company insiders such as Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg exercising options or sell shares, assuming an average price of $35.
This presents Facebook with a big tax bill, because it's required to withhold from compensation a portion for taxes. It estimates the withholding rate is 45%, or about 101 million shares. Now, it could have initiated a secondary offering, which LinkedIn (NAS: LNKD) , Zynga (NAS: ZNGA) , and Angie's List (NAS: ANGI) did, and most other newly public companies do. That would have raised sufficient cash to satisfy its tax obligation and, in fact, Facebook had originally planned to do so. But it cancelled the offering because it would have flooded the market with even more shares, depressing the price further.
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