Hey AVII, it also appears that these guys don't get gross ups for excise taxes on "parachute payments"... this from Thero's agreement:
****8. Section 280G Limitation: Anything in this Agreement to the contrary notwithstanding, in the event that the amount of any compensation, payment or distribution by the Company to or for the benefit of you, whether paid or payable or distributed or distributable pursuant to the terms of this Agreement or otherwise, calculated in a manner consistent with Section 280G of the Code and the applicable regulations thereunder (the “Severance Payments”), would be subject to the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Code, the following provisions shall apply:
(a) If the Severance Payments, reduced by the sum of (1) the Excise Tax and (2) the total of the Federal, state, and local income and employment taxes payable by you on the amount of the Severance Payments which are in excess of the Threshold Amount, are greater than or equal to the Threshold Amount, you shall be entitled to the full benefits payable under this Agreement.
(b) If the Threshold Amount is less than (x) the Severance Payments, but greater than (y) the Severance Payments reduced by the sum of (1) the Excise Tax and (2) the total of the Federal, state, and local income and employment taxes on the amount of the Severance Payments which are in excess of the Threshold Amount, then the Severance Payments shall be reduced (but not below zero) to the extent necessary so that the sum of all Severance Payments shall not exceed the Threshold Amount. In such event, the Severance Payments shall be reduced in the following order: (1) cash payments not subject to Section 409A of the Code; (2) cash payments subject to Section 409A of the Code; (3) equity-based payments and acceleration; and (4) non-cash forms of benefits. To the extent any payment is to be made over time (e.g., in installments, etc.), then the payments shall be reduced in reverse chronological order.
(c) For the purposes of this Section, “Threshold Amount” shall mean three times your “base amount” within the meaning of Section 280G(b)(3) of the Code and the regulations promulgated thereunder less one dollar ($1.00); and “Excise Tax” shall mean the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Code, and any interest or penalties incurred by you with respect to such excise tax.
(d) The determination as to which of the alternative provisions of this Section 9 shall apply to you shall be made by a nationally recognized accounting firm selected by the Company (the “Accounting Firm”), which shall provide detailed supporting calculations both to the Company and you within 15 business days of the Date of Termination, if applicable, or at such earlier time as is reasonably requested by the Company or you. For purposes of determining which of the alternative provisions of this Section 9 shall apply, you shall be deemed to pay federal income taxes at the highest marginal rate of federal income taxation applicable to individuals for the calendar year in which the determination is to be made, and state and local income taxes at the highest marginal rates of individual taxation in the state and locality of your residence on the date of termination, net of the maximum reduction in federal income taxes which could be obtained from deduction of such state and local taxes. Any determination by the Accounting Firm shall be binding upon the Company and you.****
This is a tax efficiency provision that says if we can reduce your parachute payments to a dollar below the threshold, we'll do it, because you'll get more net money. But if you'd get more even with the extra 20% excise tax, then you keep it all.
There are no gross-ups in here. So, if there were a last minute option grant, it would probably be a parachute payment, taxable at the highest marginal rate plus a non-deductible 20% excise tax. This limits the motivation to go to the trough.