Explore what ESPPs can offer
From enrolling to when shares are purchased and how much you’ll pay, this video covers it all. You’ll also learn more about some of the features ESPPs can offer, like a discount or look-back. Be sure to check your company's plan documents to find out what your specific ESPP might offer.
Related resources and actions
The IRS limits the purchase of stock in a tax-qualified Section 423 ESPP to $25,000 per calendar year.
Frequently asked questions
What is an ESPP?
"ESPP" stands for Employee Stock Purchase Plan, which is a type of plan that provides you with a convenient way to buy your company stock. If you enroll, you choose an amount to be deducted from your paycheck, and those deductions accumulate to purchase stock on a predetermined schedule.
How does an ESPP work?
An ESPP lets you choose the amount that you want to contribute each paycheck to the plan. Depending on your plan, this can be a percentage or a dollar amount. Each pay period, your company deducts this amount (after tax) and holds on to it until it’s time to purchase your shares. On the designated purchase date, your company uses that money to purchase your shares of company stock.
Consider how much you can afford to have deducted from your paycheck before you enroll.
What are the benefits of participating?
- An ESPP can be a convenient way to save for the future and potentially create extra cash.
- An ESPP can make saving easy and painless, since there are regular contributions coming from your paycheck (this removes the temptation to spend the money).
- An ESPP doesn't just offer the ease of routine saving; it can give you another way to participate in your company's potential success.
What is a look-back period?
If your company offers a look-back provision, this compares the stock price at the beginning of the offering period with the price on the purchase date and uses the lower amount to calculate the purchase price. Because a look-back feature allows you to buy shares at whichever price is lower, the price at the beginning OR the end of the period, it is an attractive feature.
Example 1 – Stock Price Increases: Your company stock is trading at $10/share at the beginning of the offering period and $15/share by the purchase date. With the look-back provision, you get to buy shares at the lower of these two prices, which in this example is $10/share.
Example 2 – Stock Price Decreases: Your company stock is trading at $20/share at the beginning of the offering period but falls to $15/share by the purchase date. In this instance, the look-back feature doesn’t apply, and you buy shares at the lower purchase date price, which in this example is $15/share.
How do I enroll in the ESPP?
If you're eligible and the enrollment window is open, you’ll see Enroll next to your ESPP's name when you log in to Fidelity NetBenefits®Log In Required. You'll be prompted to open a Fidelity Account® if you don't already have one. This is the account where your purchased shares will be deposited. To finish enrolling, simply choose an amount to contribute and then agree to the terms.
For more help enrolling in your ESPP, please review this guide.
What is an enrollment period?
It's your chance to get into the ESPP or make changes. During this period, which is predetermined by your employer, you will be able to enroll and select how much you want to contribute from your paycheck.
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Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time, and you may gain or lose money.
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