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A type of employee defined in Internal Revenue Code Section 416 (i)(1)(A). The definition includes officers whose annual compensation is greater than $175,000 in 2018, shareholders holding 5% or more of the company, and owners who own 1% or more and make over $150,000. Under the Section 409A rules, after “key employees” end their service to the company, other than by death or disability, the company must delay NQDC payouts for six months.