Jared Kaplan reviewed for Yahoo! Finance (August 23) the most important concepts that employees at companies that have an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) should understand. These include: 1) Individual account value. "In a public company the value will fluctuate with the market value of the company," Mr. Kaplan said. "In a private company the value will be determined by an appraisal, which is performed at least once a year." 2) Retirement benefits. He noted that an employee will want to know "how and when the benefits under the plan will be paid to you or to your beneficiary." 3) Tax issues. Mr. Kaplan stated that, "If certain requirements are met, a substantial portion of your distribution from an ESOP may be taxed at long-term capital gains rates," which are substantially lower than most ordinary income tax rates.