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Exercising options has tax consequences.

Depends if you signed 83b or not. If you’re early you should always do that.

You can't always, not all companies allow early exercise.

If you've been at a private company for a while you may have options that have vested approaching the ten year expiration with a large spread between strike and the fair market value.

If these options are ISOs then exercise has a lot of tax consequences to get right (AMT particularly to save some money). If you have NSOs you've still got a lot of tax to deal with on exercise, but you don't have to benefit of getting some tax free below AMT.

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