West Virginia Examples of Tax Reform Good News

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Posted by John Kartch on Sunday, December 1st, 2019, 4:30 AM 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 West Virginia. (Additions to this list can be sent to jkartch@atr.org)

Eagle Manufacturing (Wellsburg, West Virginia) – Creating new jobs and purchasing new equipment:

The company traditionally has sought to buy used equipment at low prices when replacement of machinery was necessary, according to Trimmer.

“Because of that tax break, we can invest and buy our next machines,” he said. “My department is now looking to buy a $2 million machine, rather than a 1990 classic. It will pay for itself in a short manner of time.”

Trimmer said the company is about to sign some government contracts that will put Eagle cabinets and metal products on the next generation of U.S. naval destroyers.

This could result in as many as 25 jobs being created, he said. – May 3, 2018, The Intelligencer article excerpt  

Doss Enterprises (Jane Lew, West Virginia) – Hiring new employees and purchasing new equipment:

The benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are evident just from looking around the Doss facility, Capito said.

“When I saw their board of (new) hires, there must have been 20 or 30 names on there, just April and May,” she said.

The company has chosen to reinvest its tax savings in its employees and into new equipment, Capito said.

“All of the employees are seeing (it) in their paychecks,” she said. “(Doss) has also bought some new equipment with his money, which is a great investment. He’s going to be hiring at least another 30 people.” – May 2, 2018, WVNews.com article excerpt

Warwood Tool (Wheeling, West Virginia) – Creating a new line of products:

The tax cuts have given the company and its customers enough optimism for the future that Warwood Tool is developing a new line of products. – May 3, 2018, The Intelligencer article excerpt

West Virginia American Water (Charleston, West Virginia) – The utility will pass tax savings on to customers:

West Virginia American Water Company announced a settlement plan last week which — if approved by the PSC — would result in an average savings of $3.77 a month for water and sewer customers in the state.

Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration (Wheeling, West Virginia) – Purchasing new trucks and equipment:

While Panhandle is often called upon for clean-up services after national disasters, Contraguerro told Jenkins the company relies on its day-to-day operations. Their employees, trucks and equipment are called to local homes and businesses each day following water-line breaks or other incidents, and Panhandle doesn’t wait for hurricanes to hit, he said.

The company plans to invest the money it receives from the tax cuts into more trucks and equipment.

“We will be reinvesting in the business,” he told Jenkins. “There is a huge benefit to reinvesting.” -- May 3, 2018, The Intelligencer article excerpt

Potomac Edison (Martinsburg, West Virginia) - The utility is passing on tax savings to customers:

‘More than 85,000 Potomac Edison customers in the Eastern Panhandle should see lower bills in the coming weeks thanks to federal tax reforms adopted in December.

The West Virginia Public Service Commission announced Friday that it approved rate reduction settlements for utility companies totaling almost $85 million annually, starting next month.

"Bottom line: starting Sept. 1, the tax reduction will lower bills for typical ... residential customers by nearly $2 per month," FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Meyers wrote in an email on Friday. FirstEnergy is the parent company of Potomac Edison.

"That means our average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will see their monthly (bill) fall to $108.25 from $110.22," - August 24, 2018, Herald Mail Media

Davis Trust Company (Elkins, West Virginia) - 3% across the board pay raises (on top of existing compensation structure.)

Appalachian Power Co. (Milton, West Virginia) – the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers.

Appalachian Power Company saved $235 million dollars from the federal tax cuts and the company is proposing passing the money back to its customers in a variety of ways.

The multi-pronged proposal is in a filing with the state Public Service Commission due Wednesday. The PSC is requiring all utilities to tell it their tax cut savings and what they plan to do with it.

West Virginia Consumer Advocate Jackie Roberts told MetroNews the money clearly belongs to the customers.

“They (the utilities) had taxes in their rates and now the taxes in their rates have significantly decreased—so they shouldn’t be able to keep collecting and keeping those higher taxes in their rates,” Roberts said.

Appalachian Power Company Communications Director Jeri Matheney agrees–the $235 million Appalachian Power will save belongs to its customers.

“It is customer money. What we propose to do is provide a method to keep rates as stable as possible over the longterm and as much as possible eliminate the need for rate increases,” Matheney said.

The Appalachian Power distribution proposal for West Virginia customers includes:

–$131 million to completely offset the company’s fuel and vegetation control program funding request that was part of an April filing with the PSC

–$19 million reduction in the company’s base rate case filed earlier this month (taking the $115 million request down to $96 million)

             –$51 million to reduce next year’s fuel recovery cost rate case

              –$1 million for a pilot economic development grant                           program                                 

–$30.1 million to return to customers over the next three years – May 30, 2018, MetroNews article excerpt

U-Haul (81 locations in West Virginia) – $1,200 bonuses for full-time employees, $500 for part-time employees.

Citizens Bank of West Virginia (Elkins, West Virginia) -- $1,000 bonuses for all 66 employees:

Citizens Bank of West Virginia issued a bonus of $1,000 to each of their 66 employees, joining a number of U.S. companies to pass along savings from the federal tax reform to its staff. The announcement was made in a surprise staff meeting by the bank’s president & chief executive officer.

“One of the best investments we can make is in our employees who are dedicated to making sure our customers have great banking experiences at Citizens,” said President & CEO Nathaniel S. Bonnell. “This $66,000 investment demonstrates our thanks and appreciation to our team for their tireless efforts and commitment to the bank.”

The bank’s board of directors said it was an easy decision to reward the dedicated and hard-working employees of Citizens Bank. “There are several ways we will put the tax savings to work for Citizens,” stated Board Chairman Max L. Armentrout. “However, we are most excited about paying this bonus to the great employees we have working at our bank, serving our customers and shareholders.”

Employee reaction was overwhelming as they were excited to have $1000 checks arrive the same day as the announcement.

“This was totally unexpected!” said Assistant Trust Officer Crystal Kimbleton as she choked back tears. “This check will definitely help with upcoming high school graduation and college expenses.”

“It’s the best day ever!” exclaimed Alec Rader, Deposit Operations Administrative Assistant. “One thousand dollars, a pizza luncheon – this is not how I was expecting this day to go; what a great surprise!”

Head Teller Amanda Riffle stated she was totally speechless and shocked. “This money is going to go a long way in helping me pay down my college loan. It’s greatly appreciated!”

“I’m so grateful and it’s so amazing!” stated teary-eyed Mortgage Loan Processor Anita Jones. “I am going home to Indonesia this summer and this money will help tremendously with the cost of that trip!” Anita has not been home in nine years.

Lisa Plum, Deposit Operations Administrative Assistant II, says the employees of Citizens couldn’t ask to work for a better organization. “This was just wonderful news. I’m now going to be able to take a vacation this year that was not going to happen. We are so fortunate to work for a bank that cares so much for their employees.”

The overall sentiment of the employees throughout the bank was shock and gratitude. – Feb. 2018 Citizens Bank of West Virginia statement

Walmart – West Virginians employed at 43 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.

AT&T -- $1,000 bonuses to 880 West Virginia employeesNationwide, $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

Home Depot - Six locations in West Virginia, bonuses for all hourly employees, up to $1,000.

Lowe's -- 2,000 employees at 18 stores in West Virginia. Employees will receive bonuses of up to $1,000 based on length of service; expanded benefits and maternity/paternal leave; $5,000 of adoption assistance. 

Ryder (Three locations in West Virginia) -- Tax reform bonuses for employees.

Starbucks Coffee Company (25 locations in West Virginia) – $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.

T.J. Maxx – Four stores in West Virginia – 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

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

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

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

FedEx (Multiple locations in West Virginia) – 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

McDonald’s (101 locations in West Virginia) – 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

Note: If you know of other West Virginia 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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