phantom profits definition and meaning

phantom profit formula

He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Julia Kagan is a financial/consumer journalist and former senior editor, personal finance, of Investopedia. For example, the company could grant the employee a 5% interest initially and increase the interest to 10% after the employee completes five years of service. First, consider what happens in the year of sale by using simple effective tax rate assumptions uncluttered by the complexities within the new rules and the impact of Sec. 199A.

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When assisting a client with decisions of this nature, it is important to consider all aspects of the situation — not only the impact to the recipient of the award, but also the impact to all members of the business group. This is particularly true when dealing with LLCs, due to the underlying aggregate theory of taxation at play. The aggregate theory holds that a positive result for one member of an aggregation will cause an equal and opposite negative result for another member of the aggregation. Phantom stock also provides organizations with certain restrictions in place to provide incentives tied to stock value. This can apply to a limited liability corporation (LLC), a sole proprietor or S-companies restricted by the 100-owner rule. Phantom stock plans have a lot in common with traditional nonqualified stock plans.

What is a phantom profit?

The utility (or any manufacturer depreciating productive assets) will be reporting higher profits using depreciation expense based on old low cost instead of current replacement cost. The resulting higher profits (the difference between the depreciation under GAAp versus the depreciation based on replacement cost) are phantom or illusory profits. To calculate the retail price, start with the total production costs and add in any markup that is desired. In contrast, wealth maximization is a long-term approach for making the shares of the firm gain more value and increase the stakeholders’ wealth. Under the FIFO cost flow assumption, you assume that the first item purchased is also the first one sold. Since this is the lowest-cost item in the example, profits would be highest under FIFO.

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However, the company would not typically use the formula that might represent actual market conditions. Those conditions may change and it is possible the company may one day sell for less than what the assumed market multiple is today. The reason is that LIFO would be assigning the latest costs to the cost of goods sold on the income statement. The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. Find out how to shape a culture that attracts, engages, and retains your top employees.


Under GAAP the amount of depreciation expense reported in the financial statements is based on the historical cost of the asset and is not based on the asset’s replacement cost. For example, an electric utility is depreciating (and usually charging its customers) the original cost of a power plant until the plant is fully depreciated. However, the utility is using up the economic capacity of that plant and the economic capacity might have a replacement cost that is three times as much as the plant’s original cost.

  • Phantom stock awards are typically structured to avoid 409A limitations by making the award payable on the date of vesting.
  • For example, if a company sells a piece of equipment for more than it paid for it, the difference would be considered a one-time gain.
  • “Full value” plans pay both the value of the underlying stock as well as any appreciation.
  • The phantom profit is a useful tool for decision-making because it allows you to compare the benefits of different courses of action.

In the example, the conversion date is changed to a date earlier than the date set for exercise in the plan documents. The individual receives a valuable asset but doesn’t receive actual cash. Often, the equity interest received is illiquid, which creates a difficult situation for the new equity holder. Nonetheless, the equity holder will pay taxes on the value of equity received with little or no ability to liquidate that interest to pay the assessed taxes.

Can an S-Corp have phantom stock?

The firm uses the FIFO cost layering system, and the oldest cost layer for the green widget states that the widget costs $10. However, the replacement cost of the widget is $13, so if the widget had been sold at replacement cost, the profit would instead have been $1. Thus, the $4 profit using FIFO is comprised of a $3 phantom profit and a $1 actual profit. Managers need to be aware of phantom profits, especially when there is a substantial difference between the old cost layers and replacement costs.

Explain the premise of accounting for inventories and apply the stock value move strategies under a periodic inventory system. Each kind of enterprise is completely different, and brings with it it’s personal distinctive complexities to contemplate. State tax nexus issues and required filings for passthrough entity owners are also on the rise.

How does the executive receive value from the phantom stock?

These calculators are often designed with user-friendly interfaces that are easy to use and provide clear and concise results. Phantom stock, also known as synthetic equity, has no inherent requirements or restrictions regarding its use, allowing the organization to use it however it chooses. At the end of the year, the company achieved 50% growth and the employee turnover problem was erased.

phantom profit formula

To the extent possible, any date specified for measuring the value at a triggering event should be based on practicalities consistent with the company’s business practices. You only need enough phantom shares to incentivize your employees and meet your short-term goals. Eventually, a phantom stock program should reflect the company culture you are trying to establish. However, the LIFO assumption treats the most recent purchase as if it is the most expensive purchase. This means that profits will be reduced when using the LIFO cost flow assumption because more recent costs are closer to the replacement value of an item. Matching expenses to income can be done in a number of ways but one of the simplest is to use accounting software.

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