Good to Know About Incentive Programs

Lön & HR | 26.02.2024

by Jonas Larsson

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Different types of incentive programs have long been a strategy for companies to motivate and reward their employees to achieve specific goals. A good incentive program can further contribute significantly to attracting key competencies. Therefore, it's important to think through what you want to achieve and what effects the program will have. 

Depending on your company's situation, different types of incentive solutions may be suitable. Incentive programs can be divided into two different variants: 

Cash compensation - employees receive compensation in money based on individual goals or goals linked to company objectives. Bonus programs and synthetic options are common in this variant of incentive programs. 

Employee ownership - purchasing shares, options, or subscription options is common in this variant of incentive programs.


Considerations for Incentive Programs 

Before creating an incentive program that suits your company, it's good to read up on the different types. Not only on the positive effects that can be expected, but also how tax rules look for each program. 

Some of the questions to consider are: 

  • Who should be covered by the program, and are there any requirements related to receiving compensation? 
  • When does the taxation point occur? 
  • How is the employee taxed? 

Sometimes, incentive programs are determined by foreign parent companies and can be complex to understand. In such cases, the programs are often based on the tax rules in the country where the parent company is based. For example, if we have a US parent company that wants to issue stock options to its employees around the world, these are stated according to US tax rules. 

The challenge then becomes to manage the incentive programs according to the tax rules in the country where the employees are located.


What to Consider at the End of an Incentive Program 

The Swedish employer has an obligation to account for and report incentive programs after the vesting period. Because Swedish tax rules must be followed—even if it's a program established according to another country's tax rules—the Swedish employer's responsibility can be summarized as follows: 

  • Account for taxable benefit the month it occurs. 
  • Include preliminary tax according to a lump sum tax. 
  • Pay employer contributions on the taxable benefit. 


Reporting via Payroll Management 

Reporting of taxable benefit occurs via payroll management and the monthly AGI reporting in the month the benefit occurs. Tax deductions should be made according to a lump sum tax table, but the tax deduction must not exceed the month's gross salary reimbursements. Therefore, a latent tax liability may arise if it's a high benefit to be reported, and the month's gross salary does not cover the entire tax deduction. 

Furthermore, it may be useful to communicate information to participants in the incentive program and assist them with questions regarding how compensation is paid out, how it will be taxed, and any actions that need to be taken when participants report the income in their tax returns.


If you are a customer of Azets, we can assist you with incentive programs in payroll management and reporting of these. Please contact us, and we will gladly help you through the entire process.


Do you, as an employer, have any questions about the rules for foreign personnel? Contact us at Azets. We are experts in payroll administration, accounting, and HR, and offer advice to companies. 


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About Jonas Larsson

Jonas arbetar inom lön på Azets som Expatriat Specialist och säkerställer intern och extern support inom lönehantering för Expatriater. Jonas tar även ett helhetsgrepp på utbildning samt utveckling av interna rutiner och processer.