Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted by congressional Republicans and President Trump, 90 percent of American wage earners have higher take-home pay. And employers of all sizes are hiring, raising pay, increasing benefits, upgrading equipment and expanding operations.
Below are several examples of tax reform good news in Oklahoma. (Additions to this list can be sent to [email protected])
AAON (Tulsa) – this heating and cooling firm gave $1,000 bonus checks to 2,000 employees:
“We are very appreciative of all AAON employees and want to commemorate the passing of this historic, economy-stimulating tax reform law. While most employees are shareholders of the company and benefit as a result of the new tax law, we felt it appropriate to provide a more direct recognition of their importance to AAON’s future success.” — Jan. 2, 2018 AAON press release
Express Employment Professionals (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) — $2,000 bonuses to more than 200 non-executive employees:
Express Employment Professionals nonexecutive employees in Oklahoma City each will receive a $2,000 bonus before the end of the year, CEO Bob Funk said Tuesday.
Funk said the bonus is in part because of the company’s expected savings from the tax reform legislation Congress passed last week.
“We wanted to show our appreciation for our employees for doing such a good job this year,” Funk told The Oklahoman on Tuesday. “It’s our privilege to be able to give back to our employees.”
The bonus will be provided to the more than 200 non-executive employees at Express Employment Professionals’ Oklahoma City headquarters.
Funk said he expects hiring to increase throughout the country because of the new lower corporate tax rate.
“I think we are going to be required to find a lot more people jobs more quickly because at most corporations — including ours — when they have extra cash available, they put it into the industry they know best, which is their own,” Funk said. “Especially for medium and small businesses, they usually try to expand their business.” – Dec. 27, 2017 The Oklahoman article excerpt
Elmer Smith Oil Company, Domino Transports, Inc. and Domino Food & Fuel, Inc. — Tax reform bonuses for more than 300 employees:
Elmer Smith Oil Company, Domino Transports, Inc. and Domino Food and Fuel, Inc. employees will receive a bonus before the end of the year, President Martin Smith said on Wednesday.
Smith said the bonuses are being paid from expected tax savings in 2018 and a very successful 2017. “Our employees have worked really hard the past year growing our company, we opened 3 new stores in the past 12 months and grew the size of Domino Transports, Inc. by more than 35%.”
The bonus will be paid to more than 300 employees. Smith said that he believes Congress passed the tax reform legislation to allow companies to have more cash to invest and grow the economy. “We are excited about the future of our business, we are simply reinvesting part of the expected tax savings in our most important asset, our people.”
Elmer Smith Oil Company, Domino Transports, Inc. and Domino Food and Fuel, Inc. have locations in Clinton, Elk City, Canute, Weatherford, Binger, Blanchard, Shawnee, Blackwell, Woodward, Seiling, Watonga, El Reno, and Yukon. They have employees in each of these towns and surrounding communities as well as the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle. — Dec. 29 2017, Shawnee News-Star article
Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) – The utility is passing along tax savings to customers:
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission today gave unanimous approval to a settlement in the Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) rate case that is the largest single rate reduction for an Oklahoma electric utility.
Commission Chairman Dana Murphy called the agreement a win-win for all concerned.
“The settlement will cut rates by $64 million and refund to customers $18.5 million in tax savings from federal tax reform,” Murphy said. “The timing of this couldn’t be better, as the savings will begin at a time when electric bills are the highest because of the summer heat.
Under the agreement, the average residential customer will receive a one-time tax credit and monthly rate reduction totaling an estimated $18.70 in July. Subsequent average monthly rate savings will be approximately $4.40. – June 19, 2019 Oklahoma Corporation Commission document
Oklahoma Natural Gas (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) – The utility is passing along tax savings to customers:
An order approved Tuesday by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission might help take a little chill off the state’s winter nights.
The order requires Oklahoma Natural Gas to pass through $22.7 million in credits to customers to compensate them for taxes collected as part of their bills the company didn’t have to pay.
Officials said those credits will compensate for the lowered tax liabilities that the utility enjoyed in 2018 after Congress approved and President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Officials said the order requires the utility, a division of investor-owned ONE Gas, to provide $11.7 million in credits to its customers in Oklahoma in February. They said that represents the amount the utility over-collected from customers in 2018 that didn’t account for its lower tax liabilities.
It also requires Oklahoma Natural Gas to lower its rates by $11 million to compensate customers for ongoing reduced tax liabilities, going forward. That reduction will remain in place until the company files its next rate case for consideration.
Officials said the average ratepayer will see a $15 reduction on February’s bill and will see smaller reductions in subsequent bills this year. – January 9, 2019 The Oklahoman excerpt
Public Service Company of Oklahoma (Tulsa, Oklahoma) – The utility is passing along tax savings to customers:
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission today unanimously approved an order directing Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) to return approximately $428 million in deferred excess income taxes to customers.
“This is money that is owed customers as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that took effect January 1,” said Murphy. “The Commission issued an order in the first week of January for all utilities to begin tracking the resulting over collection of taxes for refund to customers. I commend the company for moving promptly to follow the order.” – August 1, 2018 Oklahoma Corporation Commission document
CenterPoint Energy Oklahoma Gas (Houston, Texas) – The utility is passing along tax savings to customers:
CenterPoint Energy Resources Corp., d/b/a CenterPoint Energy Oklahoma Gas (“CenterPoint Oklahoma or the “Company”), hereby applies for an order of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (the “Commission”): (a) approving the calculations presented by the Company according to requirements of the Company’s Performance Based Rate Change Plan (the “PBRC Plan”) for the calendar year ended December 31, 2019, and related customer bill credits; (b) approving additional customer credits for Protected and Unprotected Excess Deferred Income Tax (“EDIT”) arising from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”); and (c) approving proposed base rate adjustments due to the Company’s Energy Efficiency (“EE”) true up adjustment and its EE incentive.
In this proceeding, CenterPoint Oklahoma will present calculations from Test-Year 2019 to support an aggregate credit to customers of approximately $2 Million. These credits arise expressly from the PBRC Plan. Customers would not be receiving such a benefit under the traditional rate process. The PBRC Plan provides that the $2 Million in credits will be returned to individual customers though monthly billings over a twelve-month period, to begin as soon as the Commission issues a final order in this Cause. – March 13, 2020 Oklahoma Corporation Commission document
Arkansas Oklahoma Gas (Fort Smith, Arkansas) – The utility is passing along tax savings to customers:
THE COMMISSION THEREFORE ORDERS that the reduction in federal corporate tax rates resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provides reduced tax expenses and new excess tax reserves, which were available to be returned to customers
THE COMMISSION FURTHER ORDERS that its previous order in this proceeding, Order No. 671980, required AOG to record a deferred liability to preserve tax savings until a review of AOG’s rates in its next-filed PBR change plan proceeding, to include consideration of tax savings.
THE COMMISSION FURTHER FINDS that competent, sworn statements have been submitted and are hereby admitted as evidence that AOG complied with Order No. 671980 in Cause No. PUD 201900028, its next PBR proceeding filed after the entry of Order No. 671980. Through consideration of tax savings in that proceeding and in Cause No. PUD 202000051, the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on customer rates have therefore been addressed. – December 30, 2020 Oklahoma Corporation Commission document
Oak Properties LLC (Tulsa, Oklahoma) — The company is building a mixed-use building that will host retail, restaurants and apartments in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:
Duane Phillips stood in the middle of a construction site near 15th Street, surrounded by pallets and hard hats and heavy machinery.
“I have a master’s in structural engineering but out here is where I love to be,” the developer says. “I love the dirt.”
He has been getting his hands dirty a lot lately.
Owner of Oak Properties LLC, he is in the midst of building a $9 million project called 1515 Cherry Street and The Lofts at 1515, a 28,000-square-foot development that will include retail, restaurants and apartments.
It represents his fourth development on 15th Street, increasing his investment in the area to around $40 million. It also is indicative of the growth on that signature stretch between South Peoria and South Utica avenues.
“I just love Cherry Street,” he says. “Most of the tenants are grounded. You can always get the rents that you need.
“Getting rents is one thing. But the retailers are able to support that rent. It works down here. They make money. We make money.”
Popping up last year near longtime Cherry Street anchor Hideaway was the burger restaurant Society.
‘There is momentum …’
Phillips has been working his way west on the thoroughfare, previously developing the 1551 Building (Roosevelt’s, Taziki’s Mediterranean, Orange Theory Fitness and InterWorks) and Cherry Street Ridge (Salata, Chipotle, Pinot’s Palette). He also was behind the conversion of the former Luby’s Cafeteria into Tulsa Fertility Center at 15th Street and Boston Avenue.
“They used to have great restaurants and bars, but it was a two-hour trip,” Phillips says of Cherry Street. “With the retail now, it’s something that can keep you here all day long. You can shop and eat and grab a beer if it’s in the evening. That’s what Cherry Street’s been missing.”
Bruce G. Weber, the jeweler that relocated from Utica Square to Phillips’ development, held its grand opening last weekend. The five-story Lofts at 1515, scheduled for completion around February, will comprise 15 apartments with balconies and designated parking.
Also part of the project are a basement speakeasy, rooftop bar, Store 5a, a high-end, preowned jewelry concept by the owners of Weber, and CycleBar, an indoor cycling studio.
“There is momentum and it’s happening on Cherry Street,” Phillips said. “There’s still some pockets here. If we can get a few more retailers out of the Utica area or Brookside, that will help.”
Brett Rehorn’s attachment to Cherry Street began about 1994, when he was a mechanical contractor for the Cherry Street Brewery in Lincoln Plaza (15th Street and Peoria Avenue). He was an original partner in the now-closed Bourbon Street Cafe, which opened in 1996, and he followed that up by opening Kilkenny’s Irish Pub in 2002 and Nola’s Creole & Cocktails last year.
“Now, if you were to count between Peoria and Utica on 15th Street, there are like 30 restaurants and bars and coffee shops,” he says. “In 1996, when I opened, there were maybe 10.”
When Rehorn started Nola’s, 11 people in the kitchen had worked for him at Bourbon Street.
“To me, it was a little niche that nobody was doing,” Rehorn says. “And I was familiar with the food at Bourbon Street. This location has always been a good location but it’s always been a hole-in-the-wall bar.
“The combination of Cherry Street booming and nobody else doing full-service Cajun and my having done it before, to me it was kind of a no-brainer.”
‘Take somebody from out of town’
Ben Ganzkow, senior associate for global real estate services company CBRE, called Bruce G. Weber’s relocation from Utica Square “pretty significant” on the commercial scale.
The store had been at the previous location since 2001 but had enjoyed a presence in upscale outdoor shopping center for decades.
“That’s what we’re starting to see with this new development wave is a shift from the traditional retail,” Ganzkow says. “What we’re seeing is a shift in development where you see higher density projects like Duane’s, where you are introducing residential over commercial, retail. On his (1551 Building) project, that’s office over ground-floor commercial retail. Parking is a factor in all this, too.”
Adding convenience for patrons and mitigating congestion in neighborhoods, Phillips, by the time his current Cherry Street project is finished, will have added 240 free parking spaces to the strip.
The potential for growth in the district remains strong. Cherry Street is one of 19 census tracts in Tulsa designated as an Opportunity Zone, a federal incentive in which developers can reduce tax payments on gains while investing in projects.
“Cherry Street does offer that balance of restaurants, shopping,” Ganzkow says. “It’s a very unique neighborhood. It’s where you would take somebody from out of town.
“It begs that question, ‘where do the locals go?’ Cherry Street offers all of those things.” — May 19, 2019 Tulsa World article
American Residential Group (Tulsa, Oklahoma) — The company is building an apartment in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:
American Residential Group (ARG) is announcing construction plans for “The View”, a multifamily property to be located in the Tulsa Arts District. The proposed 198-unit, six-story project will be the premier residential development in the city. The Class A complex will feature luxury unit finishes, rooftop amenity deck, expansive interior corridors and an attached parking structure. Along with a rooftop pool overlooking ONEOK Field, the property will offer stunning views of the Tulsa skyline.
The View will be located directly across the street from the ONEOK Field and will share a neighborhood with The BOK Center, Cain’s Ballroom and Guthrie Green. Adjacent to Tulsa’s Central Business District, the Arts District has evolved over the past several years into an energetic mix of world-class museums, eclectic restaurants, private businesses and entertainment spaces.
ARG purchased the entire square block on the Southeast corner of Archer & Elgin from the Tulsa Stadium Trust in 2015 for total redevelopment purposes. The lot falls in a Qualified Opportunity Zone, which allows investors in these targeted funds to receive substantial capital gains tax reductions. In order to receive the full benefits of the deferment over the course of its short, seven-year life, investors must act prior to Dec. 31, 2019. — January 2, 2019 press release
Webco Industries Inc. (Sand Springs, Oklahoma) – Up to $2,000 bonuses:
Webco Industries based in Sand Springs is the latest employer to give workers a bonus following the passage last year of the Trump Administration’s tax plan.
Webco says each employee was given $1,000 if they’ve been there for a year or more. Employees who have been there for a significant amount of time, were given $2,000.
Webco says they had more than a million dollars total to distribute to their employees, many of whom are in Sand Springs.
“The tax cuts and jobs act reduced corp tax rates, so that produced a significant amount of savings this year for Webco as our corporate tax bill was reduced,” said Mike Howard with Webco Industries.
These were one-time bonuses and impacted employees in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, and Michigan. — March 7, 2018 News on 6 article excerpt
Quail Creek Bank (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) – Employee bonuses of $2,000 or $1,000 and increased 401(k) contributions:
– $2,000 bonus for all non-exempt employees; $1,000 bonus for part-time employees
– Increased the 401(k) match to 100% of every dollar up to 6% of employee’s salary
Apple (Apple store locations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa) — $2,500 employee bonuses in the form of restricted stock units; nationwide, $30 billion in additional capital expenditures over five years; 20,000 new employees will be hired; increased support of coding education and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math; increased support for U.S. manufacturing:
Apple Inc. told employees Wednesday that it’s issuing a bonus of $2,500 worth of restricted stock units, following the introduction of the new U.S. tax law, according to people familiar with the matter.
The iPhone maker will begin issuing stock grants to most employees worldwide in the coming months, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The move comes on the same day Apple said it would bring back most of its cash from overseas and spend $30 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, funding an additional technical support campus, data centers and 20,000 new employees.
Apple confirmed the bonuses in response to a Bloomberg inquiry Wednesday. – Jan. 17 2018, Bloomberg News article excerpt
Capital expenditures, etc:
Apple expects to invest over $30 billion in capital expenditures in the US over the next five years and create over 20,000 new jobs through hiring at existing campuses and opening a new one.
Building on the initial success of the Advanced Manufacturing Fund announced last spring, Apple is increasing the size of the fund from $1 billion to $5 billion. The fund was established to support innovation among American manufacturers and help others establish a presence in the US. It is already backing projects with leading manufacturers in Kentucky and rural Texas.
Apple works with over 9,000 American suppliers — large and small businesses in all 50 states — and each of Apple’s core products relies on parts or materials made in the US or provided by US-based suppliers.
Apple, which has a 40-year history in education, also plans to accelerate its efforts across the US in support of coding education as well as programs focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM). – Jan. 17, 2018 Apple press release excerpts
Lowe’s — 4,000 employees at 29 stores in Oklahoma. Employees will receive bonuses of up to $1,000 based on length of service; expanded benefits and maternity/parental leave; $5,000 of adoption assistance.
Bank of America (Multiple locations in Oklahoma) — Oklahoma-based employees of Bank of America will receive $1,000 bonuses.
Cintas Corporation (Multiple locations Oklahoma) — $1,000 bonuses for employees of at least a year, $500 bonuses for employees of less than a year.
Comcast (Multiple locations in Oklahoma) — $1,000 bonuses; Nationally, at least $50 billion investment in infrastructure in next five years.
Chipotle Mexican Grill (Multiple locations in Oklahoma) – Bonuses ranging from $250 to $1,000; increased employee benefits; nationally, $50 million investment in existing restaurants.
Starbucks Coffee Company (Multiple locations in Oklahoma) – $500 stock grants for all retail employees, $2,000 stock grants for store managers, and varying plan and support center employee stock grants. Nationally, 8,000 new retail jobs; an additional wage increase this year, totaling approximately $120 million in wage increases, increased sick time benefits and parental leave.
U-Haul (Multiple locations in Oklahoma) – $1,200 bonuses for full-time employees, $500 for part-time employees.
Walmart – 136 locations in Oklahoma — Walmart employees are receiving tax reform bonuses. Nationally, base wage increase for all hourly employees to $11; bonuses of up to $1,000; expanded maternity and parental leave; $5,000 for adoption expenses.
Central Bancompany, Inc. – $1,000 bonuses for full time employees; $500 bonuses for part time employees:
In December 2017, U.S. Congress passed a comprehensive tax reform package to encourage economic growth across the nation. As a result of the federal tax reform, Central Bancompany plans to distribute a special bonus to its more than 2,500 employees residing across four states – Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Full-time employees will receive a $1,000 bonus and part-time employees will receive a $500 bonus.
“The economic development that should ensue as a direct result of the new tax reform legislation will positively affect the more than 66 communities we serve,” said Bryan Cook, Chairman and CEO of Central Bancompany, Inc. “We are excited for the opportunity to reward our dedicated and hard-working employees with this special bonus as a token of our gratitude for all that they do for our customers, businesses, and communities.” – Jan. 5, 2018 Central Bancompany press release
Note: If you know of other Oklahoma examples, please email John Kartch at [email protected]