Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) Resource Center

An Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) is an IRC section 401(a) qualified defined contribution plan which allows employees to own stock in the company for which they work. ESOPs may be sponsored by public companies or closely held corporations. They invest primarily in the securities of the sponsoring employer; may be used as a corporate financing technique; and may be leveraged or non-leveraged.  ESOPs are subject to the annual reporting and audit requirements of ERISA.

Documentation of the Evaluation of an Appraisal Used as Audit Evidence in an Employee Stock Ownership Plan Financial Statement Audit
This tool is designed to assist auditors in documenting their evaluation of whether an appraisal of employer stock prepared for plan management may be used as audit evidence in a financial statement audit of an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) sponsored by a privately held company, including their assessment of whether it is necessary to use an auditor’s specialist.

Primer on Employee Stock Ownership Plans
This primer provides a general understanding of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), and includes topics on ESOP attributes and types of ESOPs, operations and recordkeeping, leveraged ESOPs, tax benefits and related compliance requirements, prohibited transactions exemptions, valuation of employer securities and accounting and auditing resources.

AICPA Resources

AICPA Publications - General

AICPA Publications and Resources - Related to Valuations

Publications Available at AICPA Store

  • Financial Valuation of Employee Stock Ownership Plan Shares - Larry R. Cook, author; John Wiley and Sons, publisher. This publication provides information on ESOPs with a focus on what benefits a company, shareholder or plan participant would receive by transacting shares of stock with an ESOP.  It also includes information on the nature and function of ERISA, the DOL and IRS relative to ESOPs, details of important court cases, and various examples and illustrations that can be used by the valuation professional. 


  • CPExpress courses
    Employee Benefit Plans: Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) (1 hour auditing)
    Purchase/Sale of Closely-Held Business: Specialty Transaction: Employee Stock Ownership Plan & Trust (2 hour tax)

US Department of Labor Resources

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Resources

Other Resources

  • The ESOP Association  – The ESOP Association website includes publications and products, including an administrative handbook with a glossary of ESOP terminology, briefs and publications on valuation and financing issues.
  • The National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) – The National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) website includes articles and research on ESOPs, including a bi-monthly column on current news and legislative updates, and publications, including topics such as ESOP valuations, S Corporations, various handbooks, regulatory rulings and other topics.