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This paper contrasts the post-tax returns of backdated at-the-money options to currently-dated in-the-money options (with the same strike price as the backdated options) and demonstrates that a Canadian executive can earn a significantly larger after-tax return from backdated options compared to a US executive.

We tie this to the favorable Canadian tax treatment of executive options relative to their treatment in the United States.

(To learn more, read .) In short, it is this failure to disclose - rather than the backdating process itself - that is the crux of the options backdating scandal. To be clear, the majority of public companies handle their employee stock options programs in the traditional manner.

That is, they grant their executives stock options with an exercise price (or price at which the employee can purchase the common stock at a later date) equivalent to the market price at the time of the option grant.

(For more insight, see ) Although it may appear shady, public companies can typically issue and price stock option grants as they see fit, but this will all depend on the terms and conditions of their stock option granting program.