Washington Examples of Tax Reform Good News

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Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, December 5th, 2019, 3:45 PM PERMALINK

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 Washington (Additions to this list can be sent to jkartch@atr.org)

Dry Fly Distilling (Spokane, Washington) - Hiring new employees, plant expansion, and facility investments:

The reform that went into effect January 1, 2018 is helping Dry Fly Distilling save some money that the company is using to pump right back into a planned expansion, special projects, and other additions.

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act reduced the federal excise tax on distilled spirits producers. Dry Fly Distilling owner Don Poffenroth said the change has saved Dry Fly about $1.50 on every bottle, which cuts down production costs.

"Now that $1.50 really is allowing us to add additional personnel, to put more money back into our plant and then we are embarking on a fairly aggressive expansion plan as well. So, we are going to build a new facility. So, we are 100% reinvesting kind of everything we get out of that," Poffenroth said.

That saved money also can go toward special projects, like the Dry Fly Single Malt Whiskey, which has been aged for the last ten years. - February 16, 2018, KXLY article excerpt

Alaska Air Group (Seattle, Washington) -- $1,000 bonuses for 23,000 employees.

APPS Portamedic (Bellevue, Washington) – employee bonuses:

"Anything from the 20 percent reduction down to 17.5 percent, we have a lot of equipment in our business so we're going to see a tax break there. I was looking at the numbers just based on our simple tax bracket as my wife and I you know it's about a $2,500 benefit just for income tax alone," Oakley said in an interview.

So, [owner Ben] Oakley decided to share the tax break, "Yeah, I sat down with my wife two days ago, I'm like 'if this goes, I want to show people that one, Republicans care about the middle class.' My wife and I are middle class, our staff is middle class. – December 20, 2017 KIRO 7 News report excerpt  

Avista Corporation (Spokane, Washington) – the utility will pass federal tax reform savings to customers:

“Avista customers could collectively see a $50 million to $60 million annual benefit from federal tax reform, utility officials said Wednesday.- Feb. 21, 2018 The Spokesman Review article excerpt

First Financial Northwest, Inc. (Renton, Washington) – $1,000 bonuses to all 138 non-executive employees:

First Financial Northwest, Inc. (the “Company”) (NASDAQ:FFNW), the holding company for First Financial Northwest Bank (the “Bank”), today reported that it has given all of its non-executive employees a special $1,000 after-tax bonus, regardless of role or tenure with the Company. The one-time bonus comes in response to the signing of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 which provides a lower tax rate for companies like First Financial Northwest, Inc. – a portion of the expected tax savings was shared with its approximately 138 non-executive employees.

Joseph W. Kiley III, President and Chief Executive Officer, included a handwritten note with the surprise payments thanking the team for its efforts in 2017 and looking forward to a great 2018. “Our employees drive the success of our Company, delivering unique, innovative solutions to our customers and building long-term banking relationships in our communities,” said Kiley. “We pride ourselves on providing excellent benefits, competitive salaries and the opportunity for participation in the Company's long-term success. The expected tax savings give us an opportunity to invest even more in our team.” – First Financial Northwest Inc. press release

The savings on individual customers’ bills, however, won’t be known until later this year.

Corporate tax rates for the Spokane-based utility dropped from 35 percent to 21 percent effective Jan. 1. Savings from the lower taxes will get passed on to Avista’s utility customers in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, said Mark Thies, senior vice president and chief financial officer.

--

The anticipated $50 million to $60 million in annual savings is the result of the lower federal tax rate and changes to Avista’s deferred tax liability related to depreciation costs. As the result of the depreciation changes, about $442 million will be returned to Avista customers over 35 years, Thies said.” -- Feb. 21, 2018 The Spokesman Review article excerpt

 HomeStreet, Inc. (Seattle, Washington) – Base wage increased to $15 per hour:

Today, HomeStreet, Inc. (Nasdaq: HMST), the parent company of HomeStreet Bank (“HomeStreet”) announced that it has raised its company minimum wage to $15 per hour across all 111 retail branches and lending centers in seven states. The increase took effect January 1, 2018. The announcement comes on the heels of the recently signed federal tax reform bill that cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

HomeStreet made the decision to increase its minimum wage in order to share the tax reform benefits with its employees. The change is particularly welcome as the cost of living continues to increase across the country.

“We’re dedicated to the incredible people who work at HomeStreet,” said Mark Mason, president and CEO of HomeStreet Bank. “We’re grateful to be in a position where we’re able to raise our minimum wage and reward our hardworking employees for the great work they do every day. – Jan. 16, 2018 HomeStreet, Inc. press release

Puget Sound Energy Inc. (Bellevue, Washington) – The utility will pass along tax cut savings to customers:

Washington state utility regulators approved electric rate reductions for Puget Sound Energy Inc. totaling $108.5 million for 2018, with two-thirds of that amount reflecting cuts to the company's federal corporate income tax rate.

The federal tax overhaul of 2017 lowered the utility's corporate income tax return from 35% to 21%, and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission determined that the financial benefit should be passed on to the company's customers. Those customers will continue to see the benefits of the tax rate reduction in the years ahead as well because the regulators also agreed to cut Puget Sound Energy's, or PSE's, annual base electric rates by $72.9 million. – May 7, 2018, SNL Electric Utility Report

AT&T -- $1,000 bonuses for 3,890 Washington employees. Nationwide, $1 billion increase in capital expenditures:

Today, Congress approved legislation representing the first comprehensive tax reform in a generation. The President is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.

Once tax reform is signed into law, AT&T* plans to invest an additional $1 billion in the United States in 2018 and pay a special $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 AT&T U.S. employees — all union-represented, non-management and front-line managers. If the President signs the bill before Christmas, employees will receive the bonus over the holidays.

“Congress, working closely with the President, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “This tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs. In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees.”

Since 2012, AT&T has invested more in the United States than any other public company. Every $1 billion in capital invested in the telecom industry creates about 7,000 jobs for American workers, research shows. -- Dec. 20, 2017 AT&T Inc. press release

Inland Northwest Bank (Spokane, Washington) – Base wage raised to $15; $500 bonuses to employees excluding Senior Management Team:

INB, a regional independent community bank, today announced that it plans to share a portion of its anticipated tax savings with its employees as a result of the federal tax reform legislation signed last week.

The new tax reform law will revamp the tax framework and reduce the maximum tax rate for corporations from 35 percent to 21 percent. Historically, INB’s parent company, Northwest Bancorp has paid the maximum tax rate so it expects a tax cut of approximately 14 percent.

At year-end 2017, INB will pay a bonus of $500 to each of its 200 employees, excluding its Senior Management Team. Additionally, it will establish the company’s minimum wage at $15 an hour effective, January 1st, 2018. INB will also adjust other employee wages for those making more than $15 an hour. The total wage adjustment will affect more than one third of their entire workforce.– Dec. 27, 2018 Inland Northwest Bank press release excerpt

Peoples Bank (Bellingham, Washington) – Base wage raised to $15 per hour; 401(k) match increased one point to 8%:

In response to the newly passed tax reform legislation, Peoples Bank    (https://www.peoplesbank-wa.com/) today announced new investments in its employees. Specifically, Peoples Bank will raise the minimum wage to $15 for all hourly employees, effective February 1, 2018, and will increase its 401K match one point to eight percent for all eligible employees, effective immediately

“These new employee benefits reflect our ongoing commitment to doing what is right at every step, and our People Come First philosophy which guides the decisions we make in support of our customers and employees,” said Charles LeCocq, Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer. “The new corporate tax reform package is an opportunity to give back to our employees, and recognize their hard work and dedication to providing our customers with a full relationship banking experience and exceptional customer service."  – Jan. 8 2018, Peoples Bank press release

Starbucks Coffee Company (Headquarters in Seattle, Washington and 757 store locations in Washington) – $500 stock grants for all Starbucks retail employees, $2,000 stock grants for store managers, and varying plant and support center employee stock grants, totaling more than $100 million in stock grants; 8,000 new retail jobs and 500 new manufacturing jobs; an additional wage increase this year, totaling approximately $120 million in wage increases, increased sick time benefits and parental leave:

“Starbucks pays above the minimum wage in all states across the country. In April, all eligible U.S. hourly and salaried partners will receive a second wage increase in addition to the annual increases that they have already received this fiscal year. This will include an investment of approximately $120 million in wage increases that will be allocated based on regional cost of living and laws that vary from state to state. 

On April 16, we will provide an additional 2018 stock grant for all eligible full-time, part-time, hourly and salaried U.S. partners across our stores, plants and support centers, who have been active as of Jan. 1, 2018. All Starbucks retail partners will receive at least a $500 grant, store managers will each receive $2000 grant and plant and support center partner (non-retail) grants will vary depending on annualized salary or level. This investment alone is valued at more than $100 million.  

A new Partner and Family Sick Time benefit will be available to all eligible U.S. partners, which will allow partners to accrue paid sick time based on hours worked and then use them if they or a family member needs care. When this benefit goes into effect this year, Sick Time will accrue at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, thus a partner working 23 hours a week can expect to accrue approximately five days of sick time benefit over the course of one year.

Starbucks has also reaffirmed their commitment to create more than 8,000 new part-time and full-time retail jobs and an additional 500 manufacturing jobs in its Augusta, Georgia soluble coffee plant.

For store partners, Starbucks has also expanded their parental leave policy to include all non-birth parents with up to 6 weeks of paid leave when welcoming a new child.” Jan. 24 2018, Starbucks Coffee Company press release excerpt

Washington Federal (Seattle, Washington) – according to a company statement, “all Washington Federal employees in good standing and earning less than $100,000 per year will receive a 5% increase on top of their normal merit increase.”

Washington Federal, Inc. (NASDAQ: WAFD) today announced with the signing of tax reform legislation, the Bank will accelerate strategic investments in its employees, client service capabilities and community development funding. – Dec. 20 2017, Washington Federal press release

Sound Financial Bancorp Inc. (Seattle, Washington) – increasing employee incentive compensation, expanding charitable giving, and implementing a down payment assistance program for first time homebuyers:

“Responding to H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Sound Community Bank is set to implement a series of employee and community benefits in 2018.

At the Annual Employee Meeting on February 3rd, President and CEO Laurie Stewart unveiled a suite of employee and community initiatives. These include enhancing employee incentive compensation, expanding charitable giving and implementing a down payment assistance program for first time homebuyers.

The increase to incentive compensation will allow both back office and front line employees to increase compensation for achieving goals.” – Feb. 9 2018, Sound Financial Bancorp Inc. press release excerpt

Premera Blue Cross (Mountlake Terrace, Washington) -- $1,500 bonuses for 2,600 employees.

Walmart – South Dakota employees at 67 Walmart stores received tax reform bonuses, wage increases, and expanded maternity and parental leave. Walmart employees who adopt children will be given $5,000 to help cover expenses.

Home Depot -- 45 locations in Washington - Bonuses for all hourly employees, up to $1,000.

Lowe's -- 5,000+ employees at thirty-six stores and a distribution in Washington. Employees will receive bonuses of up to $1,000 based on length of service, for 260,000 employees; expanded benefits and maternity/parental leave; $5,000 of adoption assistance.

Ryder (Six locations in Washington) – Tax reform bonuses to employees.

Dollar Tree, Inc. (Multiple locations in Washington) - $100 million investment in raising base wages, enhanced benefits including maternity leave for qualifying employees, and employee training.  

Best Buy -- Twenty-eight locations in Washington; $1,000 bonuses for full-time employees; $500 bonuses for part-time employees. 

Cintas (Multiple locations in Washington) -- $1,000 bonuses for employees of at least a year, $500 for employees of less than a year.

Taco John’s (Locations in Fort Lewis, Kennewick, Spokane, McChord AFB): All full-time and part-time crew members received a $200 after-tax bonus:

Taco John’s International, Inc. announced today that in response to the 2018 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, the company gave part of its projected tax savings to its restaurant crews, general managers, corporate staff and CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees).

On Friday, Feb. 23, Taco John’s International, Inc.’s employees received a one-time bonus, as follows:

  • Every restaurant crew member - full-time and part-time - received $200 (after taxes);
  • General managers and employees at the Taco John’s Franchisee Support Center in Cheyenne received $1,000 each; and,
  • The Executive Council of Taco John’s International, Inc. (Vice Presidents and above) donated their $1,000 bonuses (a total of $10,000) to CORE, a national not-for-profit organization that grants support to children of food and beverage service employees who are navigating life-altering circumstances.
     

“At Taco John’s International, our team is our family, so sharing the financial benefits that were a result of the recent tax reform legislation only makes sense,” said Jim Creel, CEO of Taco John’s International, Inc. “We encourage other restaurant brands to follow our example and give a portion of their savings to the people that are at the heart of what we do and to great organizations like CORE that support our crew. One hundred percent of CORE’s funds directly benefit children of restaurant employees who have been afflicted with life-threating conditions.”

“We are so grateful to the Taco John’s team for their generous donation to our CORE family members,” said Lauren LaViola, executive director of CORE. “Donations like theirs help us provide for our food and beverage service families experiencing loss, illness and other life-changing circumstances, and help us get closer to our goal of helping even more families across all 50 states in 2018.”

The total amount that Taco John’s International, Inc. gave exceeded $150,000.00. – Feb. 28, 2018 Taco John’s International, Inc. press release

Chipotle Mexican Grill (Multiple locations in Washington) – Bonuses ranging from $250 to $1,000; increased employee benefits; $50 million investment in existing restaurants.

Comcast (Multiple locations in Washington) -- $1,000 bonuses; nationwide, at least $50 billion investment in infrastructure in next five years.

T.J. Maxx – (19 locations in Washington) – Tax reform bonuses, retirement plan contributions, parental leave, enhanced vacation benefits, and increased charitable donations:

The 2017 Tax Act benefited the Company in the fourth quarter and full year Fiscal 2018. The Company expects to continue to benefit from the 2017 Tax Act going forward, primarily due to the lower U.S. corporate income tax rate. As a result of the estimated cash benefit related to the 2017 Tax Act, the Company is taking the following actions:

Associates

  • A one-time, discretionary bonus to eligible, non-bonus-plan Associates, globally
  • An incremental contribution to the Company’s defined contribution retirement plans for eligible Associates in the U.S. and internationally
  • Instituting paid parental leave for eligible Associates in the U.S.
  • Enhancing vacation benefits for certain U.S. Associates

Communities

Made meaningful contributions to TJX’s charitable foundations around the world to further support TJX’s charitable giving – Feb. 28, 2018 The TJX Companies Inc. press release excerpt

U-Haul (Multiple locations in Washington) – $1,200 bonuses for full-time employees, $500 for part-time employees.

FedEx (Multiple locations in Washington) – Accelerated and increased compensation; pension plan contributions:

FedEx Corporation is announcing three major programs today following the recently enacted U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

  • Over $200 million in increased compensation, about two-thirds of which will go to hourly team members by advancing 2018 annual pay increases by six months to April 1st from the normal October date. The remainder will fund increases in performance- based incentive plans for salaried personnel.
  • A voluntary contribution of $1.5 billion to the FedEx pension plan to ensure it remains one of the best funded retirement programs in the country.
  • Investing $1.5 billion to significantly expand the FedEx Express Indianapolis hub over the next seven years. The Memphis SuperHub will also be modernized and enlarged in a major program the details of which will be announced later this spring.

FedEx believes the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will likely increase GDP and investment in the United States. -- Jan. 26 2018, FedEx press release

Waste Management Inc. (Multiple locations in Washington) -- $2,000 bonuses:

In light of the meaningful contributions of its employees and the new U.S. corporate tax structure, the company will distribute US $2,000 in 2018 to every North American employee not on a bonus or sales incentive plan; that includes hourly and other employees.

“We are about to get a tax benefit as our U.S. corporate tax rate goes from 35 percent to 21 percent. In considering how to best spend that, we wanted to find a way to help grow our economy, which in turn, will help grow our business, and give some of the tax savings back to those hardworking employees who do not get the opportunity to participate in our salaried incentive plans,” said Jim Fish, president and chief executive officer, Waste Management.

“So, we are offering each North American hourly full-time employee and salaried employee who does not participate in any sales incentive or bonus plan during 2018, a cash bonus of US $2,000 to show our appreciation to so many of our valued employees while growing our business and returning a good portion of the tax savings directly to the overall economy,” he continued. – Jan. 10 2018, Waste Management Inc. press release excerpt

McDonald’s (320+ locations in Washington) – Increased tuition investments which will provide educational program access for 400,000 U.S. employees. $2,500 per year (up from $700) for crew working 15 hours a week, $3,000 (up from $1,050) for managers, and more:

McDonald’s Corporation today announced it will allocate $150 million over five years to its global Archways to Opportunity education program. This investment will provide almost 400,000 U.S. restaurant employees with accessibility to the program as the company will also lower eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment and drop weekly shift minimums from 20 hours to 15 hours. Additionally, McDonald’s will also extend some education benefits to restaurant employees’ family members. These enhancements underscore McDonald’s and its independent franchisees’ commitment to providing jobs that fit around the lives of restaurant employees so they may pursue their education and career ambitions.

The Archways to Opportunity program provides eligible U.S. employees an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education advising services and learn English as a second language.  

“Our commitment to education reinforces our ongoing support of the people who play a crucial role in our journey to build a better McDonald’s,” said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s President and CEO. “By offering restaurant employees more opportunities to further their education and pursue their career aspirations, we are helping them find their full potential, whether that’s at McDonald’s or elsewhere.”

Accelerated by changes in the U.S. tax law, McDonald’s increased investment in the Archways to Opportunity Program includes:

  • Increased Tuition Investment:
    • Crew: Eligible crew will have access to $2,500/year, up from $700/year.
    • Managers: Eligible Managers will have access to $3,000/year, up from $1,050.
    • Participants have a choice for how they apply this funding – whether it be to a community college, four year university or trade school. There is no lifetime cap on tuition assistance – restaurant employees will be able to pursue their education and career passions at their own pace. The new tuition assistance is effective May 1, 2018 and retroactive to January 1, 2018.
  • Lowered Eligibility Requirements: Increase access to the program by lowering eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment. In addition, dropping from 20 hours minimum to 15 hours minimum (roughly two full time shifts) per week to enable restaurant employees more time to focus on studies.
  • Extended Services to Families: Extension of Career Online High School and College Advisory services to restaurant employees’ family members through existing educational partners Cengage and Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).
  • Additional Resources: Career exploration resources for eligible restaurant employees to be available later this year.
  • Creation of an International Education Fund: Grants to provide local initiatives and incentives in global markets to further education advancement programs.
     

“Since its inception, Archways to Opportunity was meant to match the ambition and drive of restaurant crew with the means and network to help them find success on their own terms,” said David Fairhurst, McDonald’s Chief People Officer. “By tripling tuition assistance, adding education benefits for family members and lowering eligibility requirements to the equivalent of a summer job, we are sending a signal that if you come work at your local McDonald’s, we’ll invest in your future.”

After launching in the U.S. in 2015, Archways to Opportunity has increased access to education for over 24,000 people and awarded over $21 million in high school and college tuition assistance. Graduates have received college degrees in Business Administration, Human Resources, Communications, Accounting, Microbiology and more. – March 29, 2018 McDonald’s Corporation press release excerpt 

Wells Fargo (135 locations in Washington) Raised base wage from $13.50 to $15.00 per hour; $400 million in charitable donations for 2018; $100 million increased capital investment over the next three years.

Note: If you know of other Washington examples, please email John Kartch at jkartch@atr.org

The running nationwide list of companies can be found at www.atr.org/list

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