Can an employee of a publicly listed company (Google, Facebook, Amazon,...) ask to get paid 100% in non-vesting stocks? If so, would the employee be able to defer paying taxes until he/she sells the stock? Additionally, would the individual only be liable for capital gains taxes?

Obviously this involves risks, and obviously the individual will have to live off savings during the term of employment.

1 Answer 1


Companies that offer compensation in stock have to withhold the tax of the employee's income. This is common in RSU (Restricted Stock Unit) and RSA (Restricted Stock Award) arrangements that publicly traded tech companies offer.

Things you receive as compensation are taxed as income at the value you received them at. Simple as that. It doesn't matter if it is cash, stock or bitcoin. What you do with the rest is up to you: sell for cash, sell depreciated assets for a short/long term capital loss, sell appreciated assets for a short/long term capital gain.

You can try to negotiate 100% payment in non-cash, it is not the typical outcome.

  • 5
    It seems that being paid in stock would give you the same exact outcome as taking each paycheck and immediately buying the company's stock (if the company was public).
    – minou
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 10:35
  • Did your first sentence intend to say (as written) the *employer's share" or (typical W-4 scenario) the "employee's share" of income tax?
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 13:31
  • @BenVoigt it is written as intended, but I see the ambiguity, it is all the employee's tax, but the company is obligated to withhold an amount.
    – CQM
    Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 19:11
  • 1
    @gaefan it isn't the same. RSU's and RSA's are often granted at significant discounts to the publicly trading price, and also are granted years ahead of when you actually get them. So you have cheaper shares which ideally have appreciated in value, as well as long-term capital gains tax which is a much lower tax rate than short term capital gains.
    – CQM
    Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 19:13

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