Diversify your foreign ESOP/RSU holdings with Vested

by Viram Shah
May 17, 2024
4 min read
Diversify your foreign ESOP/RSU holdings with Vested

The first ever ESOP was issued in San Francisco in 1956 to enable employees to own a company after the founders passed away. Ever since then, ESOPs have become an increasingly popular way to allow employees to monetarily benefit from the value that their company creates, especially in the tech world.

Along with Employee Stock Options or as they are popularly known, ESOPs, Restricted Stock Units or RSUs are also another way to enable employees to own part of the company. While both ESOPs and RSUs serve the same end purpose, they are taxed slightly differently but we won’t get into those differences in this blog…

ESOPs/RSUs for Indian residents

As an Indian resident, you may come across four different types of ESOPs.

  1. ESOPs of a private and India-based company
  2. ESOPs of publicly-listed and India-based company
  3. ESOPs of a private and foreign-based company
  4. ESOPs of publicly-listed and foreign-based company

Irrespective of whether the company is India or foreign based, you can only liquidate ESOP holdings of a private company when the company either IPOs, gets acquired or there is a share buyback.

On the other hand, for a publicly-listed company, ESOPs/RSUs can be easily sold on the stock exchange and liquidated. Most people know that for an India-based company you can easily sell the vested shares and invest it into other stocks. But very few people know that you can also sell ESOPs/RSUs of a public foreign company and re-invest the proceeds abroad without needing to bring the funds back to India. 

Is it legal to re-invest foreign ESOP/RSU proceeds internationally?

In 2022, the Ministry of Finance published updated Overseas Investment regulations. Under these regulations, it was clarified that any shares acquired or received under Employee Benefits Schemes (includes ESOPs/RSUs) are considered as Overseas Portfolio Investments as long as these shares are less than 10% of the total equity of the company (which they are 99% of the time). 

Further, as per the RBI’s Liberalized Remittance Scheme regulations, Overseas Portfolio Investments can be re-invested in any other publicly-listed companies within a period of 180 days from its sale. 

In conclusion (and this conclusion has been confirmed with multiple leading law firms in India) – An Indian resident that has overseas ESOPs/RSUs in publicly-listed companies can re-invest the funds from its sale in other listed stocks as long as they are reinvested within 180 days of the sale. You can get started on this today itself via Vested.

Why would you want to re-invest your ESOP/RSU proceeds abroad?

Now, you may be wondering why one would want to re-invest their ESOP/RSU proceeds abroad. There are a few reasons why:

  • Diversify your wealth: As the underlying value of the ESOP grows, more and more of your wealth might end up concentrated in the stock of just one company. In order to create a more robust portfolio, it would be prudent to diversify your holdings into multiple companies or ETFs
  • Invest in the US market without forex fees and TCS: If you own ESOPs in US-listed companies, you can easily transfer USD from your ESOP account to a Vested brokerage account to invest in 5,000+ US stocks and ETFs. You would not need to pay any forex conversion fees or have funds blocked because of Tax Collection at Source (TCS) since you would not be transferring funds from India or converting currencies 
  • Fast fund transfers: You can move funds into your US brokerage account quickly via domestic ACH or wire transfers via a completely online process

How can you transfer your proceeds to your Vested account to re-invest? (for US-listed ESOPs/RSUs)

To reinvest your USD proceeds in other US-listed stocks such as Apple, Google, Tesla, Microsoft, you would need a US brokerage account. Vested allows Indian residents to easily open a US brokerage account.

Here are the key steps to transfer your ESOP/RSU proceeds into your Vested account: 

  1. Complete your KYC to open a Vested US stocks brokerage account
  2. Go to the ‘Transfer’ section on the app, click on ‘Add funds’, and then select the ‘ESOP/RSU’ account option.
  3. Within this section find the broker with which you hold your ESOP/RSUs like Fidelity, Morgan Stanley, Computershare, E-trade or Charles Schwab. 
    1. Note: If you cannot find your broker, you can click on View General Instructions to get the key pieces of information to initiate a wire transfer from any other broker
  4. Download the pdf instructions to transfer funds 
  5. Head to your ESOP/RSU account and follow the instructions provided in the PDF
  6. Once the transfer is initiated, the funds typically get credited on Vested within 5-7 business days 

Typically, the broker charges a one-time wire transfer fee when you move the funds. This ranges from $25 to $50 per wire. 

Click here to start diversifying your ESOP/RSU proceeds with Vested.

What are the tax implications when I transfer cash from selling ESOP/RSUs to Vested?

The tax implications are simple, based on the amount of time you have held these shares, you will be paying long-term or short-term capital gains tax upon sale of your ESOPs. More details on this can be found in our taxation article – How taxation works when investing in foreign stocks

Once the capital gains tax is accounted for, there is no additional tax related to transferring the funds to your Vested account. 

Comments

Gopala krishna Kasturi 4 weeks ago

Is it possible to transfer Dividend received in my ESOP account of Fidelity to vested accoutn. Am not finding ESOP option in transfer.

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 4 weeks ago

Yup, dividend income can also be re=invested via your Vested account

Nikhil 4 weeks ago

Not able to see RSU option under transfer section

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 4 weeks ago

Are you still not able to see it? Please drop a note at help@vestedfinance.co and we can take a look

Pradeep Elavarasan 3 weeks ago

This is awesome initiative and will help a lot of us to diversify. Can you also clarify if the dividend income received from our employers stocks can also be reinvested through this route ?

Or are there separate regulations for dividends ?

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 3 weeks ago

Great to hear that! Dividend income can also be transferred since any income related to investments can be re-invested

Bhishmaraj 3 weeks ago

I recently made a transfer and it worked flawlessly and got the funds in T + 1 days.

Just had a small query regarding taxation. Don’t we have to pay capital gains tax when we sell and transfer to the vested brokerage account

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 3 weeks ago

Excellent, which broker did you transfer from?

On taxation, yes whenever you sell you will need to pay capital gains tax. If you have held the shares for less than 24 months then it is as per your income tax slab. If you have held them for more than 24 months then the rate is 20% with indexation benefits.

Bhishmaraj 3 weeks ago

I used Morgan Stanley Stockplan (which was provided by my employer).

I see the following events –
1. Sell RSU using broker X (US account)
2. Receive funds in vested broker (US account)
3. Buy US equities

Do we have to report all 3 to ITR?

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 3 weeks ago

Tax will be payable on event 1 only. After that only whenever you sell your holdings on Vested.

You will need to disclose your foreign holdings in your Schedule FA, that we will help you with and provide all the info required in a easy manner

Bhishmaraj 3 weeks ago

My CA pointed me to https://m.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_FemaNotifications.aspx?Id=2126
Point 22 (4)
“(4) A person resident in India may transfer by way of sale the shares acquired in terms of sub-regulation (1) and (2) above

Provided that the proceeds thereof are repatriated immediately on receipt thereof and in any case not later than 90 days from the date of sale of such securities.”

Don’t we have to repatriate the funds back to India before making the investment?

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 3 weeks ago

So that’s the old regulation. This got updated with RBI’s new Overseas Investment regulations in 2022.

You can share the below two points with your CA to verify:
1. ESOP/RSUs now qualify as Overseas Portfolio Investments or OPI. Refer to 1f here – https://rbi.org.in/scripts/FS_Notification.aspx?Id=12381
2. OPI falls under RBI’s Liberalized Remittance Scheme or LRS and therein one can reinvest as long as it’s within 180 days. Refer 17 here – https://rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_ViewMasDirections.aspx?id=10192

Kumar 3 weeks ago

Can I transfer Stock acquired via ESPP (Employee Stock purchase Plan)?

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 3 weeks ago

Yes, you can. We will add detailed instructions on it soon. In the meantime pls check which stock transfer method is available with your broker – DTC or ACAT. There are different fees associated with both. We can then help with the process, pls drop a note at help@vestedfinance.co

Mahesh Shah 3 weeks ago

On taxation, yes whenever you sell you will need to pay capital gains tax. If you have held the shares for less than 24 months then it is as per your income tax slab. If you have held them for more than 24 months then the rate is 20% with indexation benefits.
the indexation benefit is not available for foreign share . not listed on indian bourses

Saswat Pujari 3 weeks ago

Can we not transfer the stocks only to vested without selling them and transferring the USD?

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 3 weeks ago

You can. Please check which stock transfer method is available with your broker – DTC or ACAT. There are different fees associated with both. We can then help with the process, pls drop a note at help@vestedfinance.co

Rakesh 3 weeks ago

Are there any tax need to be paid in US?
do we need to file form W-8BEN ? At what time do we need to file W-8BEN ?

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 3 weeks ago

We file the W8-BEN on your behalf when you open a Vested account. There is a withholding tax of 25% on the dividend you earn which you can claim credit for when you file in India, apart from that no taxes in the US

Satheesh 3 weeks ago

Is this option available from religare+vested,as I have vested account along with Religare

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 3 weeks ago

Yup, it’s available under Religare + Vested as well

Kishore 2 weeks ago

Is there a different procedure to be followed for transferring rsu and espp or will it remain same for both?

View 2 replies
Viram Shah 2 weeks ago

Hey, its the same process for both

Biren 2 weeks ago

Can you please explain this
“Typically, the broker charges a one-time wire transfer fee when you move the funds. This ranges from $25 to $50 per wire. ”
Everytime I transfer from my Morgan Stanley account (whether it is the dividend gained or RSU sold or ESPP sold) there will be a transfer fee – minimum of 25$ ??

I tried to initiate one transfer on my dividend gains. But there I do not see the charges. May be Morgan Stanley is unaware of this charge.

Ashish 2 days ago

Can you also please share the conversion rates which gets applied,
Reason is SBI or any PSU banks today gives better conversion rate when we move money to India.
Vested/SBM together as far as I know charge little higher then that.

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 2 days ago

You can still use that route to bring your funds back to India whenever you want by wiring it from your Vested account

Vineet 8 hours ago

Hi,
Could you please confirm if long term (>=36 month) tax of 20% is applicable for ETFs as well?

Asking since there is recent change regarding taxation which made International Funds/ETFs from India getting taxed at income slab if they have less exposure to Indian Equity.

View 1 reply
Viram Shah 8 hours ago

Yup, 20% is still applicable for long-term capital gains for ETFs. Long-term is >= 36 months

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