In a webinar with MyStartupEquity, Siddarth Pai (Founding Partner & CFO of 3one4 Capital) spoke about the importance of equity grants in startups. Siddarth believes that Indian startups should consider the mechanism of “Phantom Stocks” or “Stock Appreciation Rights” or SARs to help employees with the exercise tax on their equity shares. Explaining SARs, he says,
In my opinion, startup founders should avoid “vanilla” ESOP schemes. This is a cookie-cutter ESOP scheme that one gets from an acquaintance and it often proves to be detrimental & costly in the long run. What founders can do instead is reach out to a proper law firm or company secretaries, or reach out to companies like LetsVenture’s MyStartupEquity and use good standard templates put out by them.
They can also architect something like the SAR scheme or the Stock Appreciation Rights scheme. A SAR scheme is similar to what people call “phantom stocks” in the US, wherein one can actually realize liquidity from a particular stock, and then use that liquidity to pay particular taxes. Instead of paying taxes from personal bank accounts, employees can pay taxes at the time when the sale happens just like in a listed company. In a listed company, for example, when one exercises shares, they immediately sell them, realize the cash of that, and pay taxes. It becomes easier as it is in the form of cashless management.
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