- Jordan Harris
Six Months After Federal Tax Law, Hundreds of Thousands of Kentuckians Have Already Benefited
Tomorrow, June 22nd, marks six months since the 2017 Federal Tax Reform was signed into law. The total impact of tax code changes have to be assessed over decades, rather than months, but the immediate impacts have been significant.
Conservatively, more than 500,000 Kentuckians have seen direct benefits through bonuses, increased wages, and utility rate cuts attached to the reform (some of these are listed below).
LG&E and KU announced in January that they would be delivering $180 million in savings to Kentucky utility customers. Kentucky Power announced that utility rates for 168,000 customers in Eastern Kentucky would be lower in 2018 thanks to tax reform. Similar rate cuts are expected from Duke Energy. All of these benefits are in addition to the extra money that working families all across the state have seen in their paychecks.
The states economy, by many metrics, is in its best condition in decades. In April, the state recorded its lowest unemployment rate since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping unemployment data. From December of 2017, when the tax reform bill was signed, to May of 2018, exactly 13,769 Kentuckians have found employment and the unemployment rate has decreased from 4.5% to 4.1%.
It is still far too early to draw major conclusions about the effects of the tax reform bill but the short term indicators are strong. The bonuses and utility rate cuts have provided significant extra cash for many Kentucky families, with more likely to come.
Some of the examples of Bonuses and Increased Wages From Federal Tax Reform:
Brown-Forman Corporation (Louisville, Kentucky) – $120 million contribution to the employee pension fund; creation of a charitable foundation with an initial $60 - $70 million contribution.
Paul Varga, Chief Executive Officer of Brown-Forman, said, "These capital deployment actions underscore the strength of the company’s balance sheet and health of our business, and are augmented by the anticipated benefits due to tax reform. – Jan. 23, 2018 Brown-Forman Corporation press release
Computer Services, Inc. (Paducah, Kentucky) – $1,300 cash bonuses for non-executive full-time employees with more than 12 months of service; $650 for part-time employees; additional contribution to employee retirement plan:
As a result of the reduced corporate tax rate effective with the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (TCJA), Computer Services, Inc. (CSI) (OTCQX: CSVI), a provider of end-to-end financial technology solutions, is using its financial savings to reinvest in its employees and infrastructure.
Recognizing the opportunity brought about by the TCJA, CSI is investing a portion of its corporate tax savings with its employees. Non-executive full-time employees with the company more than 12 months will receive a one-time $1,300 cash bonus in March. Part-time and other employees with the company less than 12 months will receive a one-time cash bonus of $650 also in March. The company also stated that all eligible employees will receive an additional one-time contribution to their retirement plan. – March 5, 2018 Computer Services, Inc. statement
Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company (Louisville, Kentucky) – the utilities will pass tax reform savings to customers:
If approved by the commission, customers would see nearly $180 million in savings in the form of a reduction on the Environmental Surcharge line item on their bill in March, followed by a new line item credit on the bill based on energy consumption starting in April.
“We had been supportive of the Tax Act all along because of the savings for our residential and business customers, so we are pleased that the commission acted quickly to enable us to deliver these savings so expeditiously. The other parties to this case — the Kentucky Attorney General and the Kentucky Industrial Utility Customers — truly had the customer in mind and a willingness to work together to reach a mutually acceptable solution,” said Kent Blake, chief financial officer at LG&E and KU. “With the colder-than-average winter, and subsequent high energy use, these savings will come at a key time for our customers.”—Jan. 29 2018, Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company, part of the PPL corporation press excerpt
Humana (Louisville, Kentucky) – base wage increased to $15 per hour; acceleration of annual performance-based incentive program; additional community investments; accelerated investment in technological and operational processes; earnings benefits for shareholders; more to be announced:
One change with immediate consequences is the new tax reform law which took effect January 1. Like many U.S. companies, Humana will begin benefitting this year from one element of this law: a lower corporate income tax rate. Our steadfast commitment to simplifying the healthcare experience and improving health outcomes for seniors, for TRICARE beneficiaries, and for employer group members remains our top priority, and will guide our decisions as to how to allocate tax-reform proceeds.
We have long recognized that our ability to carry out our commitments to those we have the privilege of serving depends on the collective contribution of every associate. And when Humana achieves sustainable success, we have a greater opportunity to share that success. To further this important connection, it’s my pleasure to let you know that we are:
-Accelerating the previously announced participation of associates in our annual performance-based incentive program from 2019 to 2018. Associates participating in the program will have a minimum incentive target of 4% of their base salary for 2018, with payouts to occur in March 2019.
-Raising the minimum hourly rate in the continental U.S. for full- and part-time Humana associates to $15.
These measures represent our faith in your ability to continue to contribute meaningfully to the health of our members and the growth of our company for many years to come. They also increase your opportunity to participate in being rewarded for our business performance and recognize outstanding contributions that we make to those we serve.
Details on the implementation of these measures will be forthcoming soon. In addition, we will also be sharing with you additional investments that will align around three important Humana priorities:
-Community investments to assist in addressing the social determinants of health for seniors, such as food insecurity, social isolation, and transportation
-Accelerated investments in technology and operational processes to reduce consumer and clinician friction points, increase engagement in health-related activities and increase productivity
-Earnings benefit for our shareholders (including, of course, thousands of Humana associates) – Excerpt from Jan. 15, 2018 letter to associates
Duke Energy Kentucky, Inc. (Cincinnati, Ohio) – the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:
Across the Ohio River in Kentucky, state regulators continue to review the company's proposals that recommend allocating more than $15 million of tax act benefits to Duke Energy Kentucky customers. – April 13, 2018, Duke Energy Press Release
Verst Logistics, Inc. (Walton, Kentucky) -- $500 bonuses to all full-time employees:
Verst Logistics confirmed today that they distributed $500 bonuses to all full-time employees on December 29, 2017.
As part of an internal communication, President and CEO Paul Verst wrote that, as a result of the approved tax reform legislation, "Verst Logistics will realize reduced tax obgligations going forward." Speaking directly to employees, he added, "The combination of the efforts of our employees to meet and exceed our customer's requirements, coupled with a more favorable tax environment, makes for a great future for our company. I want to be sure that you and your families share in the benefits of your accomplishments and the new tax reform legislation."
In a more recent statement, Paul Verst commented, "We are excited to be included in the growing list of organizations that believe the new tax plan will help our economy by creating new opportunities for business and putting more money in the hands of hard-working people across the U.S." – Jan. 24, 2018 Verst Logistics, Inc. press release
Turning Point Brands, Inc. (Louisville, Kentucky) -- $1,000 bonuses for 107 employees:
"We are giving $1,000 bonuses as a direct result of tax reform becoming law. These employees would not normally get a bonus like this. Our dedicated employees are responsible for our success, and we are very pleased to announce this bonus for them during the holiday season. We are extremely happy with tax reform and wanted our valued employees to feel the benefits. We can attest that this tax package is directly benefiting working people, just as our national leaders promised when they started this effort."
“We especially want to thank President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan for pushing to get tax reform done this year, which allowed our people to immediately feel the impact. Every leader who pushed for and voted for tax reform made these bonuses possible," Wexler said. “Senator McConnell has personally toured our facility in Louisville and we appreciate his interest in our employees and our business as well as his interest in all Kentucky businesses.”
Novelis, Inc. (Guthrie) – Construction of a 400,000-square foot automotive aluminum facility in Guthrie, Kentucky. The facility will create approximately 125 jobs:
Since 2008 manufacturing in the United States has added more than a million new jobs, and today that momentum continued with a major announcement by Novelis, Inc.—spurred on, in part, by the recently enacted tax reform legislation.
The global leader in aluminum rolled products and the world’s largest recycler of aluminum broke ground this week on its $300 million automotive aluminum sheet manufacturing facility in Guthrie, Kentucky. This new investment, made possible due to tax reform and a “favorable economic environment,” will create approximately 125 new jobs. – May 14, 2018 National Association of Manufacturers ShopFloor.org blog post
Community Trust Bancorp (Pikeville, Kentucky) -- $1,000 bonuses for full time employees and $500 bonuses for part-time employees (exact number receiving bonus unknown at this time):
“The bonus will be paid to employees as soon as the new tax tables are released in 2018 so that employees may receive the full benefit of the reduction in tax rates.
“Management and the Boards of Directors continue to believe that our most valuable assets are our employees and are pleased that changes in the tax laws facilitate our ability to recognize their hard work and dedication to the success of CTBI.” – Dec. 22, 2017 Community Trust Bancorp press release
AT&T -- $1,000 bonuses to 2,524 employees in Kentucky; 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
Wal-Mart – Kentucky employees at 96 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 -- 14 locations in Kentucky, bonuses for all hourly employees, up to $1,000.
Taco John’s (9 locations in Kentucky): 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
T.J. Maxx – 16 stores in Kentucky – 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:
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
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
CarMax (Locations in Lexington and Louisville) – $250-$1,500 bonuses depending on length of service:
“The nation’s largest retailer of used cars, announced plans to provide one-time bonuses to most hourly and commissioned full-time and part-time associates as a result of the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Bonus amounts will vary from $200 up to $1,500 based on length of service with the company.” – Feb 23. 2018, EPR Retail News article excerp
Apple (Apple store locations in Lexington and Louisville) -- $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.
Waste Management Inc. (Multiple locations in Kentucky) -- $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
Cintas (Multiple locations in Kentucky) -- $1,000 bonuses for employees of at least a year, $500 for employees of less than a year.
Chipotle Mexican Grill (Multiple locations in Kentucky) – Bonuses ranging from $250 to $1,000; increased employee benefits; $50 million investment in existing restaurants.
Comcast (Multiple locations in Kentucky) -- $1,000 bonuses; nationwide, at least $50 billion investment in infrastructure in next five years.
Lowe's -- 6,000+ employees at 42 stores in Kentucky. 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 (8 locations in Kentucky) – Tax reform bonuses.
Starbucks Coffee Company (116 locations in Kentucky) –$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 Kentucky) – $1,200 bonuses for full-time employees, $500 for part-time employees.
Bank of America (Multiple locations in Kentucky) -- Indiana-based employees of Bank of America will receive $1,000 bonuses.
FedEx (Multiple locations in Kentucky) – 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 (250+ locations in Kentucky) – 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
Fifth Third Bancorp – 92 locations in Kentucky; Nationally $1,000 bonuses for 13,500 employees and base wage raise increase to $15:
Newly passed tax legislation includes a reduction in corporate tax rates designed to spur economic growth. Carmichael said the tax cut allowed the Bank the opportunity to reevaluate its compensation structure and share some of those benefits with its talented and dedicated workforce.
Carmichael said the higher wage is an important step to help support individuals, their families and the communities in which we operate. Fifth Third has a history of investing in its 18,000 employees.
Once the legislation is signed into law, nearly 3,000 hourly employees will see their pay increase to $15 an hour. The one-time $1,000 bonus is expected to be distributed by the end of the year, assuming the president signs the bill before Christmas. Senior managers and executive leadership are excluded from this compensation.
“It is good for our communities, employees and Fifth Third Bank,” [President and CEO Greg] Carmichael said. – Dec. 20, 2017 Fifth Third press release
First Financial Bancorp (Kentucky locations in Burlington, Fort Mitchell, and Hebron) -- Base wage raised to $15 per hour; $3 million charitable contribution:
First Financial Bancorp (Nasdaq: FFBC) will raise the starting wage for all new and existing hourly associates to $15 an hour effective immediately. Additionally, the bank has made a $3 million contribution to its newly established charitable foundation. This announcement comes as a result of the recently passed tax legislation, which includes a reduction in corporate tax rates.
First Financial strives to provide fair and competitive salaries and benefits to its associates. Approximately 1,335 associates are employed throughout the First Financial footprint in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. The increase will affect 220 of these associates. – Jan. 3, 2018 First Financial Bancorp press release
MainSource Financial Group (15 locations in Kentucky) – Base wage raised to $15 per hour:
MainSource Financial Group (NASDAQ: MSFG) will raise the starting pay and minimum hourly rate to $15 an hour effective immediately for all of its non-exempt, non-commissioned employees. This announcement comes as a result of the recently passed tax legislation, which includes a reduction in corporate tax rates.
Approximately 1,000 associates are employed throughout the MainSource footprint in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. The pay increase will affect over 200 employees.
Archie M. Brown, Jr., President and CEO, stated, "The recently passed tax legislation is anticipated to create significant savings for our company. We are pleased to direct a portion of this savings back to many of our employees with a meaningful increase in pay." – Jan. 3, 2018 MainSource Financial Group press release (List Courtesy of Americans for Tax Reform)