Employee Stock Purchase Plan Dilemma
For the last few years, I have been participating in my company’s stock purchase plan at the maximum level. Every paycheck, ten percent of my gross salary is withheld. At the end of each quarter the funds are used to buy my company’s stock at a 15 percent discount from the lower price of either the first day or last day of the quarter. As my company’s stock declined mostly due to the economy at large and the industry in which I work, this was a losing proposition. I decided not to sell the company stock until prices returned, rather than selling at the first available opportunity as I had been earlier.
So now I have company stock that I have been holding since December 31, 2007. About half of the shared purchased then and since then are in a losing position while half are now in a winning position. My only opportunity to sell this quarter is closing soon, so I should decide what to do. Here are some of my options:
- Sell all of it. It’s risky to hold so much in one stock, and I already have company stock in my 401(k). I can write off the losses against the gains to reduce tax liability.
- Sell the shares in a losing position. I can write off the losses against any realized gains if I sell stocks later this year.
- Sell nothing until they are held for two years. The stock will probably go up, and after two years, they will be long-term capital gains, taxed at a lower rate.
- Sell the shares in a winning position. This would help my cash flow, but I’ll owe income tax.
What would you do?