Republican tax bill includes big break for startup employees

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has backed changes rules for stock options. Photo: Cliff Owen / AP

House Republicans may win some new fans in Silicon Valley, with a new tax proposal that would help employees of highly valued startups that have not yet gone public.

Why it matters: If a startup employee wants to change jobs, he or she is often required to exercise vested stock options within 90 days or else lose them. But that employee also is on the hook for associated taxes, despite there not being a way to sell any of the shares. In other words, the employee has to pay real money to cover paper gains — a situation that is often untenable, particularly given that startup compensation is usually cash-light and stock-heavy.