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Employee Stock Purchase Plans

  • Engelhardt, Gary V.
  • Madrian, Brigitte C.

Employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs) are designed to promote employee stock ownership broadly within the firm and provide another tax–deferred vehicle for individual capital accumulation in addition to traditional pensions, 401(k)s, and stock options. We outline the individual and corporate tax treatment of ESPPs and the circumstances under which ESPPs will be preferred to cash compensation from a purely tax perspective. We then examine empirically ESPP participation using administrative data from 1997–2001 for a large health services company that employs approximately 30,000 people. The picture that emerges from the analysis of these data suggests that there is substantial non–participation in these plans even though all employees could increase gross compensation through participation. We discuss a number of potential explanations for non–participation.

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Article provided by National Tax Association in its journal National Tax Journal.

Volume (Year): 57 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 385-406

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Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:57:y:2004:i:2:p:385-406
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  2. Cunningham, Christopher R. & Engelhardt, Gary V., 2002. "Federal Tax Policy, Employer Matching, and 401(k) Saving: Evidence from HRS W-2 Records," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(3), pages 617-45, September.
  3. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1988. "The Determinants of IRA Contributions and the Effect of Limit Changes," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions in the U.S. Economy, pages 9-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2000. "The Taxation of Executive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 7596, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Engelhardt, Gary V., 1994. "Tax Subsidies to Saving for Home Purchase: Evidence from Canadian RHOSPs," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(2), pages 363-88, June.
  8. James M. Poterba, 2003. "Employer Stock and 401(k) Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 398-404, May.
  9. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Nellie Liang & Scott Weisbenner, 2002. "Investor Behavior and the Purchase of Company Stock in 401(k) Plans - The Importance of Plan Design," NBER Working Papers 9131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2002. "The Transition To Home Ownership And The Black-White Wealth Gap," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 281-297, May.
  12. Michael R. Veall, 1999. "Did Tax Flattening Affect RRSP Contributions?," Department of Economics Working Papers 1999-04, McMaster University.
  13. Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Who Is Credit Constrained in the U.S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-34, February.
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  16. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1988. "Pensions in the U.S. Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi88-1, June.
  17. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
  18. John Yinger, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Consumer Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 23-40, Spring.
  19. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  20. David I. Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 1998. "Self-Control and Saving for Retirement," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 91-196.
  21. Cox, Donald, 1990. "Intergenerational Transfers and Liquidity Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 187-217, February.
  22. Helen F. Ladd, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Mortgage Lending," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 41-62, Spring.
  23. Olivia S. Mitchell & Stephen P. Utkus, 2002. "The Role of Company Stock in Defined Contribution Plans," NBER Working Papers 9250, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Engelhardt, Gary V, 1996. "Tax Subsidies and Household Saving: Evidence from Canada," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1237-68, November.
  25. Nellie Liang & Scott Weisbenner, 2002. "Investor behavior and the purchase of company stock in 401(k) plans - the importance of plan design," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-36, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  26. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
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