If you receive stock from your employer in connection with the performance of services and such stock is not vested or subject to risk of forfeiture, you can make a special election. This election, called a Section 83(b) election (named after the section in the Tax Code), allows you to include in gross income the value of the stock (less any amount you paid) as compensation. Why choose to pay tax now when you don’t have to? This election transforms all future appreciation on the stock into capital gains; without the election, the full value of the stock would be ordinary income in the future when there was no longer any risk of forfeiture.
The IRS has now released sample language that can be used to make this election. The election must be filed with the IRS within 30 days of receipt of the restricted stock as well as attaching it to the return for the year in which the election is made.