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In the context of mutual funds, a feature allowing fundholders to use an earlier date on a letter of intent to invest in a mutual fund in exchange for a reduced sales charge, e.g. Giving retroactive value to purchases from the earlier date. In the context of corporate governance, the illegal practice of setting the date of options awarded as part of executive compensation to a period when the stock price was very low (rather than setting the date of the options on the date the award was made).
The act of dating a document before the date it was actually signed. For example, if one signs a contract on February 1, one may backdate it to January 31. Backdating is usually illegal; for example, one may use backdating to evade taxes. However, it can be permissible under certain circumstances. For instance, one may backdate an insurance claim if there was an unavoidable delay between the date the insured event occurred and the day the claim was made.
The practice of allowing a mutual fund shareholder to use previous purchases of the fund's shares so as to qualify for reduced commission charges on subsequent purchases. Backdating is used when a fund offers declining proportional sales charges on larger purchases.