If Cantwell and Murray enact a corporate income tax rate increase, they will have to explain why they just increased your utility bills
If President Biden and Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray hike the corporate income tax rate, Washington households and businesses will get stuck with higher utility bills as the country tries to recover from the pandemic.
Democrats plan to impose a corporate income tax rate increase to 26.5%, even higher than communist China’s 25% and higher than the developed world average of 23.5%. This does not even include state corporate income taxes, which average 4 – 5% nationwide.
Customers bear the cost of corporate income taxes imposed on utility companies. Corporate income tax cuts drive utility rates down, corporate income tax hikes drive utility rates up.
Electric, gas, and water companies must get their billing rates approved by the respective state utility commissions. When the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cut the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%, utility companies worked with state officials to pass along the tax savings to customers, including at least five Washington utilities.
The savings typically come in the form of a rate reduction, a bill credit, or a reduction to an existing or planned rate increase.
According to a report published in the trade publication Utility Dive, customers nationwide were to receive a $90 billion utility benefit from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:
Estimates derived from 2017 annual SEC 10-K filings indicate that the 14-percentage-point reduction in the corporate tax rate enacted under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) resulted in investor-owned utilities establishing significant regulatory liability balances, totaling approximately $90 billion to be refunded back to customers.
Americans for Tax Reform has compiled a 90-second nationwide utility savings video from local news reports which may be viewed here.
If Democrats now impose a corporate income tax rate increase, they will have to reckon with local news coverage noting utility bills are going up. A vote for a corporate income tax hike is a vote for higher utility bills as households try to recover from the pandemic.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Impact: Working with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, Avista Corporation, Puget Sound Energy Inc., Cascade Natural Gas, Pacific Power and Light and Northwest Natural Gas Company passed along tax savings to their customers.
Puget Sound Energy Inc.: As noted in this April 30, 2018 the Seattle Times excerpt:
Puget Sound Energy (PSE) says it will pass all of a $96.5-million cut in federal taxes on to electric and natural gas customers.
The tax savings will cut residential electric bills by $3.50 a month and trim natural gas bills by $1.83 a month, according to a written statement from the organization. Those rate adjustments will take effect Tuesday.
Pacific Power and Light: As noted in this December 22, 2020 DailyEnergyInsider excerpt:
The first general rate case filed by Pacific Power in Washington since 2014, it also accelerates pass-through of remaining federal tax savings from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and depreciation of coal plant investments to remove coal, almost doubles the amount of wind generation being brought to Washington, establishes an advisory committee to oversee the development of new assistance programs for low-income customers and creates a new, flattened rate structure.
Cascade Natural Gas: As noted in this December 2019 Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business excerpt:
Rate changes for Cascade primarily are due to the purchased gas cost and decoupling mechanism, but they also include cost recovery for pipeline replacement, conservation programs, low-income assistance, and refunds related to excess deferred income taxes due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Kennewick-based Cascade serves more than 220,000 residential and business customers in 68 communities throughout the state, including Kennewick, Walla Walla, Sunnyside, Yakima, Wenatchee, Aberdeen, Bellingham, Bremerton, Longview, Moses Lake and Mount Vernon.
Northwest Natural Gas Company: As noted in this Northwest Natural Gas Company document:
The Order authorizes NW Natural to provide federal tax reform benefits to customers related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in December 2017. The Order directs NW Natural to provide customers with a rate reduction of $2.1 million over one year to reflect the benefit of the lower federal corporate income tax rate accumulating from January 1, 2018 through October 31, 2019, and provides an additional annual rate reduction initially set at approximately $0.5 million to reflect a benefit from the remeasurement of deferred tax liabilities of approximately $15.0 million.
Avista Corporation: As noted in this April 27, 2018 Avista press release:
Avista’s (NYSE:AVA) electric and natural gas general rate cases have concluded, with an order issued by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission or UTC). The Commission approved one-time electric and natural gas rate adjustments which will take effect May 1, 2018.
The Commission’s order approved electric rates designed to increase annual billed revenues by $10.8 million, or 2.1 percent and natural gas rates designed to decrease annual billed revenues by $2.1 million, or 1.6 percent. These revenues include the return to customers through base rates of approximately $26.9 million for electric service, and $5.5 million for natural gas service, as a result of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
Conversely, if Biden and Democrats raise the corporate tax rate, they will add to the burden faced by working families. And any small businesses operate on tight margins and can’t afford higher heating, cooling, gas, and refrigeration costs.
President Biden should withdraw his tax increases.