How to Get a Good 409A Valuation


If your company is granting equity-based compensation such as stock options or restricted stock units (RSUs) to employees or service providers, you will be well served (if not required) to obtain a 409A valuation. A 409A valuation is a valuation of the fair market value of your company's common stock. It must be performed in accordance with Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code. This post provides a good overview of the steps involved in obtaining a 409A valuation. To learn in more detail about what a 409A valuation is, click here.

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Third-Party Valuation Firms

There are several ways to satisfy the requirements of Section 409A of the Code. But, the general consensus (and my view) is that the best way to get a 409A valuation is to work with a qualified and experienced, third-party valuation firm that specializes in providing 409A valuations. Here are some tips to help you find the best firm for your needs:

  1. Look for Experience. Choose a valuation firm with experience in providing 409A valuations. The more experience the firm has, the more likely they are to understand the complexities of the valuation process and provide accurate and reliable results.

  2. Choose a Reputable Firm. Research the reputation of the valuation firm you are considering. Look for reviews and testimonials from past clients to ensure that the firm is reputable and provides high-quality services.

  3. Ask for References. Request references from the valuation firm and contact them to learn about their experience with the firm. Ask about the quality of the valuation, the communication with the firm, and any other relevant factors.

  4. Consider the Cost. While cost should not be the only factor in your decision, it is important to choose a firm that provides fair and transparent pricing. Compare the fees of different firms and make sure you understand what is included in the price.

  5. Check Credentials. Choose a firm with qualified and experienced professionals who hold relevant certifications such as the Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designations.

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What Are the Steps Involved in a 409A Valuation?

By following these tips, you can find a qualified and reputable valuation firm that can provide you with a reliable and accurate 409A valuation. It is important to work with a firm that you trust and feel comfortable with to ensure a successful valuation process.

Step 1 β€” Choose a Valuation Firm

The first step in obtaining a 409A valuation is to select a valuation firm. Look for a firm with experience in providing 409A valuations, and make sure the firm is qualified and reputable. You may want to consider factors such as the firm's size, geographic location, and expertise in your industry.

Step 2 β€” Provide Relevant Information

Once you have selected a valuation firm, you will need to provide the firm with relevant information about your company. This may include financial statements, business plans, projections, and any other relevant data. The valuation firm will use this information to determine the fair market value of your company's common stock.

Step 3 β€” Determine Your Valuation Method

The valuation firm will determine the appropriate valuation method based on the stage of your company, industry, and other factors. The most common methods used include income-based approaches, market-based approaches, and asset-based approaches. The valuation firm will select the method that is most appropriate for your company's circumstances.

Step 4 β€” Conduct Your Valuation

The valuation firm will conduct the valuation using the selected method and provide a report detailing the fair market value of your company's common stock. The report will include a detailed explanation of the valuation method used, the assumptions made, and any other relevant information.

Step 5 β€” Update Your Valuation

It is important to keep your 409A valuation up to date. You should update your valuation at least once a year, or whenever there are significant events such as fundraising, M&A, or changes in the company's financials. You should work with your valuation firm to ensure that your valuation is current and accurate at all times.


In conclusion, obtaining a 409A valuation is an important step in ensuring compliance with Section 409A of the IRC. By following these steps and working with a qualified valuation firm, you can ensure that your company's equity-based compensation is valued accurately and avoid potential tax penalties.


Contact an experienced corporate & securities attorney if you are contemplating investing in a venture capital seed round in a startup, or if your company is considering seeking seed round venture capital financing. Make an appointment now for a free consultation.

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I have become very impressed with the efficiency possibilities of AI. So, I gave ChatGPT a try. I generated this text in part with GPT-3, OpenAI's large-scale language-generation model. After it generated its own draft language, I reviewed, edited, revised, and expanded on it to my own liking and to ensure accuracy in all material respects. WLF takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this article.


This article is not legal advice, but is provided for general information purposes only: see the disclaimer in the footer of this site, and read Legal Notices here.

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