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These Companies Gave Bonuses or Raises After Tax Reform

Author: Adam Levy | May 24, 2018

A person is handed a stack of cash.

Source: Getty Images

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Tax savings are being passed down

President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts into law on Dec. 22, 2017, reducing personal income taxes for most families for the next 10 years. Corporations, however, received much bigger and more permanent tax cuts with the new law reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and reducing the tax on repatriated cash to 15.5%. The Congressional Budget Office estimates businesses will save about $320 billion in taxes over the next 10 years.

The tax overhaul prompted hundreds of businesses to offer bonuses and pay raises to their workers and expand employee benefits. Here’s a selection of companies that have passed on some of their savings to their employees.

ALSO READ: What Will Retailers Do With Billions in Corporate Tax Savings?



Man sitting on a bench next to a duck.

Source: Aflac

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1. Aflac

Aflac’s (NYSE: AFL) U.S. employees received a nice boost to their 401(k) accounts following the passage of the tax cuts. Each employee received a one-time $500 bonus contribution. Additionally, Aflac increased its matching contribution to 100% of the first 4% of employee’s contributions. Aflac now also offers certain hospital and accident insurance products to all employees free of charge.

Aflac is a big beneficiary of the tax reform, in particular the repatriation tax changes, which require companies to pay taxes on overseas assets, but at a significantly reduced rate. Aflac generates most of its revenue in Japan, and the new repatriation tax means a significantly lower overall tax rate. The $500 bonuses and increased 401(k) match is only a small portion of what Aflac stands to gain from the new tax code.



An Alaska Air plane in the sky.

Source: Alaska Air

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2. Alaska Air Group

Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), the parent company of Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, and Horizon Air, paid out $1,000 bonuses to its 23,000 employees at the end of January. Those bonuses can help make up for some operational challenges the company faced in 2017, which may impact annual performance-based bonuses. All told, Alaska Air paid out $148 million in bonuses including the one-time bonuses for tax-reform.

Alaska is a growing airline group investing in growing its fleet. As such, it stands to benefit greatly from the new ability to deduct capital expenditures immediately, rather than depreciating those investments over a longer period. The company plans to spend $1 billion on capital expenditures in 2018 and $750 million on capex in 2019 and 2020, which it can now immediately deduct from revenue.



American Airlines plane on the runway

Source: American Airlines

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3. American Airlines

American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL) employees, excluding officers, received a $1,000 bonus sometime during the first three months of 2018. The total amount came to about $130 million.

Interestingly, American Airlines doesn’t stand to benefit that much from tax reform, since it already doesn’t pay any cash taxes. It continues to carry forward losses from the past. That said, it’s spending a large amount on refreshing its fleet, establishing the youngest fleet of planes among major airlines. It can benefit from the immediate deduction of its capital expenses, and save those losses for the future. Whether or not that’s actually a smart move is another debate.



Close up of an open pack of cigarettes.

Source: Getty Images

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4. Altria

Altria (NYSE: MO) paid its 7,900 non-executive employees an extra $3,000 earlier this year, totaling about $24 million. The company is also increasing its philanthropic giving by $35 million over the next three years.

Altria has already seen some big positive impacts from tax law changes. It recorded a $3.4 billion net tax benefit in the fourth quarter. It will further benefit from the lower repatriation taxes on its investment in Anheuser-Busch InBev. For the full year, Altria’s management expects its tax rate to fall to between 23% and 24% compared to 33.4% last year. With $2.2 billion in income before taxes, that’s another $220 million per year in cash for Altria, which it will likely use mostly to keep increasing its dividend.

ALSO READ: Altria's Big Earnings Boost Leaves Investors Unsatisfied



Pharmacist giving medicine to customer and baby.

Source: Anthem

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5. Anthem

Anthem (NYSE: ANTM) is padding 58,000 employees’ and recent retirees’ retirement accounts with an extra $1,000 thanks to its expected tax savings. Anthem is automatically establishing 401(k) accounts and funding them with $1,000 for employees that haven’t opened one yet.

Anthem laid out how it plans to distribute its gross savings from tax reform during its fourth quarter earnings call. 25% will go back to the customers through things like medical loss ratio rebates. Another 25% will go toward investments in technology modernization efforts to improve consumer experience and develop new products to improve efficiency. The last 50% will get returned to the shareholders.

Management expects its effective tax rate to come in between 25.5% and 27.5% this year. That’s down from tax rates around 45% in 2015 and 2016. So, there’s a lot of savings to go around. Employees will see just $58 million, though.



The iPhone X.

Source: Apple

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6. Apple

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) issued a grant of $2,500 in restricted stock units to all individual contributors and management up to and including senior managers worldwide at the beginning of the year. Both full-time and part-time employees across all aspects of Apple’s business were eligible. Apple is also matching its employees’ charitable contributions 2-to-1 up to $10,000 for 2018.

Apple is the largest tax payer in the United States, and it benefits greatly from the changes to the tax code. Apple held around $250 billion in cash overseas, and it’s now able to bring that back to the U.S. at a 15.5% tax rate compared to a 35% tax rate previously. Apple expects the changes to result in an effective tax rate of just 15% compared to about 25% over the last few years. When we’re talking about $70 billion in earnings before interest and tax, that’s a big chunk of savings.



AT&T flagship store in San Francisco.

Source: AT&T

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7. AT&T

AT&T (NYSE: T) gave 200,000 employees a $1,000 bonus at the end of last year. President Trump specifically called out those bonuses in a press conference announcing the passage of the new tax bill. AT&T might have been one of the first to announce bonuses after the passage of the bill in order to win favor with the Trump administration as it’s seeking approval of its acquisition of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), which was blocked by the Department of Justice.

Telecom companies stand to be some of the biggest beneficiaries of the new tax law. AT&T expects to keep an additional $3 billion in cash in 2018 compared to what it would have paid under the old tax law. That’s after planning an additional $1 billion in capital spending this year. The full-year impact of tax reform will be $0.45 per share, which is about a 15% increase in earnings just from lower taxes.



A Bank of America branch entrance.

Source: Bank of America

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8. Bank of America

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) employees earning less than $150,000 per year will receive a bonus of $1,000 by the end of 2018 if they haven’t already. Management says about 145,000 employees are eligible for the bonus. It also raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour in February.

Management also noted that the tax cuts provide an opportunity to accelerate its investments in key areas such as establishing more of a physical presence in key markets and increased technology spending.

Bank of America expects the changes in the tax code to reduce its tax rate by 9 percentage points. In the first quarter, it reported pre-tax income of $8.4 billion, implying a tax savings of about $750 million in the first three months of the year.  

ALSO READ: What to Expect From Bank of America in 2018



A Best Buy storefront.

Source: Best Buy

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9. Best Buy

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) paid out $1,000 bonuses to all full-time store employees and non-bonus eligible corporate employees. It also gave $500 to part-time employees. The bonuses total about $75 million. Going forward, management says it plans to make improvements to its employee benefit programs.

Best Buy will spend a lot more money increasing its dividend, which it upped 32% last quarter, and its share repurchase program, to which it added $500 million in authorization for this year. It’s also increasing capital expenditures by about $75 million at the midpoint of its guidance. Overall, management expects its effective tax rate to fall to 25% this year, down from well above 30% in prior years.




Smiling woman in a vehicle

Source: Getty Images

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10. CarMax

CarMax (NYSE: KMX) paid out bonuses ranging from $200 up to $1,500 to most of its full-time and part-time associates earlier this year. The amounts vary based on tenure and full-time status. About 80% of CarMax employees received a bonus, including hourly employees and those paid on commission. The total amount spent on bonuses came to $8 million. Management is also investing in improving its benefit plans.

CarMax management says it expects 70% to 85% of the benefits it sees from tax reform to hit the company’s bottom line. It is planning incremental investments in technology to improve its digital capabilities, and it’s planning to open 15 new stores this year, but most of the tax savings will benefit shareholders.



A financial advisor sitting with a client.

Source: Charles Schwab

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11. Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW) was ahead of the curve, as it paid out a $1,000 bonus to about 9,000 non-executive employees last year in anticipation of the changes in the tax code. The company also expanded its parental leave program for all employees, and increased its charitable giving. It’s made plans to increase hiring as well, expanding its offices to house up to 4,000 new employees.

Management expects to see its effective tax rate fall 11.5% to 12% for 2018 and beyond compared to 2017. With such strong earnings growth at the company already, that could result in over $500 million back in Chuck’s pocket for 2018 alone. For reference, those bonuses it paid out last year totaled just $9 million.



Spectrum technician in the field.

Source: Charter

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12. Charter Communications

Charter (NASDAQ: CHTR) announced plans to increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour by the end of 2018 along with its fourth quarter earnings results in February. It’s unclear how many of Charter’s 94,000 employees will see an impact from the wage hike, or how much it will cost Charter.

Charter saw a big benefit from the changes in the tax code during the fourth quarter, recording a $9.3 billion non-cash benefit from the adjustment of its deferred taxes. Charter isn’t planning to increase its capital spending despite the new tax incentives to do so. It’s also planning to reduce its share buyback activity in 2018. So, it looks like Charter expects to pocket most of its tax savings.

ALSO READ: What to Expect From Charter Communications Inc. in 2018



Chipotle Mexican Grill storefront.

Source: Chipotle

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13. Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) announced that its hourly store employees will be eligible for a $250 bonus and store managers are eligible for a $1,000 bonus. Some staff members received stock grants. Chipotle is also expanding its benefits program including parental leave, short-term disability insurance, and life insurance, to its hourly restaurant managers.

Management said the new tax code will save the company between $40 million and $50 million. Employees will receive about one-third of those savings in bonuses and improved benefits, but the rest will go toward improving its existing restaurants. It plans to spend $50 million -- about $20,000 per store -- upgrading its dining experience.



Doctor checking patient's heart with a stethoscope.

Source: Cigna

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14. Cigna

Cigna (NYSE: CI) increased its minimum starting salary to $16 per hour at the end of January. At the same time, it increased its 401(k) match by an additional percentage point. The two moves will cost the company about $45 million per year.

Cigna investors saw a net tax benefit of $221 million in the fourth quarter due to a reduction in the company’s deferred tax liability, which was partially offset by the mandatory tax on foreign cash. Management expects its effective tax rate to drop to 24% to 25% this year, which is a massive improvement over the effective tax rate of around 38% the company saw in the last few years. Based on earnings before income taxes of around $3.3 billion, Cigna could save around $350 million per year.



Comcast Xfinity truck in front of Comcast building.

Source: Comcast

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15. Comcast

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) announced special one-time $1,000 bonuses for over 100,000 employees just after the new tax bill passed.

Management also said it would spend over $50 billion in the next five years to improve its cable communications and theme parks businesses. It’s worth noting, however, Comcast’s capex run rate had already climbed above $10 billion per year when it announced those plans, so it’s not clear the new tax law had any impact on Comcast’s spending plans.

Like many companies a lot of Comcast’s tax savings are going to investors in the form of dividends and buybacks. The company announced a 21% increase to its dividend in the first quarter, totaling about $600 million in payments. It also expects to buy back at least another $5 billion in shares this year. That’s a bit more than the $100 million it gave employees.



Female shopper in a store aisle.

Source: CVS

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16. CVS

CVS (NYSE: CVS) announced an increase to its minimum wage from $9 per hour to $11 per hour starting in April. The company also said it’s giving raises to many store workers and pharmacy technicians that are already making more than that. It’s extending parental leave to four weeks with 100% compensation, and its increasing its health insurance premium subsidies for employees. Overall, management expects the moves to cost $425 million annually.

CVS said it expects to save $1.2 billion this year due to changes in the tax code. It expects to spend at least half of that windfall on reducing its debt burden, and it’s allocated $275 million to strategic investments. Unlike many companies, CVS didn’t announce any plans to increase its dividend or share repurchase authorization as a result of the tax cuts.

ALSO READ: Is CVS Health Corporation a Buy?



Discover it credit card.

Source: Discover

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17. Discover

15,000 Discover Financial (NYSE: DFS) employees will receive a $1,000 bonus this year thanks to the tax savings the company will see from the new tax code. About 7,000 of those employees will see a pay raise to the company’s new minimum starting wage of $15.25. Management says 25% of its tax savings will go toward investing in its employees.

The other three quarters will go toward investing in growth, primarily through increased marketing. Discover actually stands to benefit in two ways from tax cuts. It will see a lower corporate tax rate like all other companies, but lower personal income tax rates could allow customers to service more of their debts, reducing unpaid bills and defaults.



Mickey Mouse waving from next to his car.

Source: Disney

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18. Disney

Disney (NYSE: DIS) paid out $1,000 bonuses to 125,000 eligible employees this year with some of its savings from tax reform. It’s also investing another $50 million in its education program for employees. That’s a total of $175 million in bonuses and benefits.

Disney has come under fire, however, as one of the requirements to receive the bonus is for union workers to agree to Disney’s latest contract offer. Some say this might amount to a bribe and unfair labor practices.

Disney stands to benefit from the accelerated depreciation schedule in the new tax code as it invests in new attractions at its theme parks. It also benefits from the lower repatriation tax rate, and it was able to generate a net tax benefit of $1.6 billion in the fourth quarter from a reduction in its deferred taxes, which it now expects to pay a lower tax rate on.



Pharmacist handing medication to an older male.

Source: Getty Images

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19. Express Scripts

Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX) is giving employees a one-time bonus between $500 and $2,000 based on tenure with the company. The average bonus amount is $1,200, according to the company. Express Scripts is also creating a $30 million education fund for employees’ children to fund college and vocational training. In total, Express Scripts is investing an additional $50 million in its employees.

Express Scripts recorded a $1.4 billion reduction in its deferred tax liability in the fourth quarter, as it now expects to pay a lower tax rate on that income. In the first quarter this year, the company saw its income tax provision decline from $364.9 million to $193.7 million. It had an effective tax rate of just 23.6% versus 39.9% last year.



The Home Depot printed on a wooden crate in a store.

Source: Home Depot

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21. Home Depot

Home Depot (NYSE: HD) paid out cash bonuses to hourly workers ranging from $200 to $1,000 based on tenure. Those with 20-plus years at the company received the full $1,000; those with less than two years, received just $200.

Management expects the changes in the tax law to increase its cash flow by $1.8 billion in 2018. It’s also pulling forward capital investments into 2018 as a result of the increased cash flow and the new tax benefits allowing companies to deduct capital expenses immediately instead of depreciating them over time.



Fleet of JetBlue airplanes at airport gates.

Source: JetBlue

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22. JetBlue

JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU) paid $1,000 bonuses to its 21,217 employees in February this year for a total of $21.2 million.

Meanwhile, JetBlue stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of tax reform. Management expects its effective tax rate to fall from 38% in 2017 to 24% to 26% this year. As a growing airline, it can benefit from the ability to immediately deduct capital expenditures. The provision could, in fact, reduce its cash tax bill to $0 starting this year and for the next five years. For reference, it paid $139 million in taxes last year and $173 million in 2016. That’s a lot more than the $21 million it gave employees.



The interior of a Chase bank branch.

Source: Chase

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23. JPMorgan

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) increased its hourly wages an average of 10% with new minimum wages ranging from $15 to $18 per hour (depending on location) for 22,000 employees. The bank previously paid employees $12 to $16.50 per hour to start. It’s also reducing medical plan deductibles by $750 for employees making less than $60,000 per year.

In January, the company outlined a $20 billion five-year investment plan boosted by the savings from the new tax code. The plan aims to support employees through wage increase, expand its network of Chase bank branches by opening 400 new locations, increase its charitable giving by 40%, increase small business lending by 20% to $4 billion over three years, and accelerate affordable housing lending.

JPMorgan will have to pay about $2.4 billion on the mandatory tax on international cash, but it expects a 10 percentage point reduction on its effective tax rate over the next few years. With around $36 billion in income before income tax expenses last year, that’s around $3.6 billion in annual tax savings.



A supermarket clerk helps a customer.

Source: Getty Images

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24. Kroger

Kroger (NYSE: KR) management said it wants to do more than a one-time award to its employees like many of its competitors offered in the wake of tax reform. Instead, it’s investing in ongoing benefits such as increased 401(k) matches, higher wages, enhanced educational opportunities, increased employee support programs, and larger employee discounts. In April, it increased its 401(k) match to 5% from 4% and increased starting wages to $11 per hour to compete with other retailers.

Kroger said only about one-third of tax savings will end up in shareholders’ pockets via net earnings. The rest will go toward its Restock Kroger initiative to improve the customer experience with technology, expand partnerships, develop talent (with things like improved employee benefits outlined above), and increase Kroger’s social impact.

Kroger saw an immediate benefit of $922 million in reduced tax liability after the new tax law passed due to remeasuring its deferred tax liability at the new lower rate.  Kroger may also benefit from higher discretionary spending from families with more cash in their pockets following the tax cuts.

ALSO READ: Kroger Goes on a Hiring Spree



A Lowe's storefront.

Source: Lowe's

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25. Lowe's

Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW) paid out a variable bonus ranging from $75 for part-time workers with less than two years’ experience up to $1,000 for full-time employees with 20-plus years of service. A total of 260,000 employees received a bonus of some amount. Lowe’s also extended maternal leave to 10 weeks, paternal leave to two weeks, introduced a $5,000 child adoption benefit, and reduced the eligibility period for health insurance enrollment to 30 days.

While Lowe’s saw a small negative impact from tax reform in the fourth quarter last year, management expects to benefit to the tune of $750 million in 2018. It will use most of the additional cash to fund increased capital spending, investing particularly in the omni-channel retail experience.



A Marriott hotel in Brisbane, Australia.

Source: Marriott

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26. Marriott

Marriott International (NASDAQ: MAR) is giving employees a special 401(k) match this year as a result of its recent cash windfalls, including tax savings from changes in the tax code. Employees will receive a 5-to-1 match up to $1,000 in their retirement plans this year. The bonus will cost Marriott an additional $140 million, according to management.

Tax cuts will lower Marriott’s effective tax rate 8 percentage points, resulting in a savings of about $200 million this year. Marriott will have significant cash taxes this year as a result of its sale of Avendra as well as the mandatory repatriation tax. In the long run, the international company will see significant benefits from the lower repatriation rate as well as the lower U.S. corporate tax rate.



Mastercard booth at mobile world conference 2016.

Source: Mastercard

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27. Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA) announced an increase in its employer match to its defined-contribution retirement plan during its fourth quarter earnings results. The company will now match 5% of employees' salary on a 2-to-1 basis. Considering Mastercard paid out $84 million in 401(k) matches in 2017, that could amount to about $55 million in additional employee compensation per year.

Mastercard stands to benefit quite a bit from the tax code changes. While it paid an additional $873 million in taxes in the fourth quarter last year, that was primarily due to its decision to take the tax hit on its overseas cash. The new tax law allows Mastercard to repatriate that cash at significantly lower rates (15.5% versus 35%). It will also benefit from the overall lower corporate tax rate, after paying an effective rate of 26.8% in 2017 and 28.1% in 2016.



A glass Pepsi bottle over blue background.

Source: PepsiCo

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28. PepsiCo

PepsiCo (NASDAQ: PEP) announced plans to pay out bonuses of up to $1,000 to its full-time front-line U.S.-based associates during its fourth quarter earnings call. It also said it plans to invest in employee training around the world.

Pepsi recorded a $2.5 billion tax expense in the fourth quarter as a result of the new mandatory tax on overseas cash. But since it has significant overseas operations, Pepsi will see a significant benefit from the lower repatriation tax rate. It also expects to benefit from the lower U.S. corporate tax rate. It’s accelerating its capital spending this year, and it’s increasing its dividend and buyback as well.

ALSO READ: Why PepsiCo Has Turned Cautious on Growth



A PNC bank branch.

Source: PNC

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29. PNC Financial

PNC (NYSE: PNC) gave $1,000 cash bonuses to about 47,500 employees in the first quarter. It’s also adding $1,500 to their pension accounts. By the end of the year, PNC will institute a $15 per hour minimum wage, matching similar increases from other banks. It’s also donating $200 million to the PNC Foundation to support early childhood education.

PNC has already seen a substantial benefit from the changes to the tax code. It reduced its deferred tax liability by $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter, primarily related to its investment in BlackRock. Management expects an effective tax rate of 17% this year compared to 24.1% in 2016. That could provide a benefit of between $350 million and $400 million based on historical income before taxes.



Underside of a Southwest airplane showing logo.

Source: Southwest Airlines

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30. Southwest Airlines

Both full-time and part-time Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) employees received a cash bonus of $1,000 on Jan. 8. Those bonuses totaled approximately $70 million.

Southwest’s effective 2017 tax rate (excluding changes made in the fourth quarter) was 36%. Management expects that number to come down to between 23% and 23.5% this year, saving it “hundreds of millions.” Additionally, the company is increasing its planned capital spending, exercising some options with Boeing to update its fleet, and revising its 2019 and 2020 schedule with the supplier.



Green Starbucks barista aprons.

Source: Starbucks

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31. Starbucks

Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) is investing a significant amount back into its employees. Each retail employee received a $500 stock grant in April and store managers received a $2,000 stock grant. Additionally, employees received a second wage increase on top of regular wage increases that come in January. It’s also increasing sick time and parental leave benefits. The combined worth of the bonuses and additional wages is $220 million.

Starbucks has historically spent a lot on keeping its employees happy and providing great benefits, so it’s not a big surprise it’s investing a lot of its tax savings in its workers.

Starbucks could save $425 million annually due to tax changes, according to Credit Suisse analyst Jason West. On the other hand, Starbucks may face higher taxes from Seattle, where its headquarters is located, under a proposed employee-hours tax. Unlike other companies, Starbucks didn’t make any changes to its capital returns program, which was already a significant amount -- a $15 billion authorization over three years at the time the tax bill passed.



A U-Haul truck on the road.

Source: U-Haul

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32. U-Haul

Amerco (NYSE: UHAL), the parent company of U-Haul, gave out bonuses of $1,200 for full-time employees and $500 for part-time employees. In all, 28,940 employees received bonuses totaling $23.6 million.

Amerco stands to save $60 million annually from the tax cuts, and it plans to invest $200 million total in personnel, tools, and facilities over the coming years. (How much of that is from tax cut benefits, and the timeline to deploy that capital is unclear.) Management expects to see its effective tax rate fall 10 percentage points during the next fiscal year. And due to tax payments made before the new tax law was enacted, it doesn’t expect to pay any cash taxes for the next five quarters.

ALSO READ: U-Haul Parent Amerco's Profitability Slides



A Verizon Wireless storefront.

Source: Verizon Communications

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33. Verizon

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) employees, other than top management, received 50 shares of restricted stock at the start of the year. That’s worth nearly $2,500 per employee, and totals about $400 million. Verizon, however, doesn’t plan on spending much of the cash it’s going to save due to the changes in the tax structure.

Verizon expects the changes to result in an additional $3.5 billion to $4 billion in operational cash flow. Instead of investing more of that money in building out its network and hiring more workers, like the Trump administration had hoped, it’s going to pocket the cash and strengthen its balance sheet, which holds a lot of debt. Verizon, like all capital-intensive telecoms, will still see a big benefit from the ability to deduct capital spending immediately instead of depreciating assets over time.



A person uses a cell phone for a mobile payment via Visa.

Source: Visa

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34. Visa

Visa (NYSE: V) is increasing its 401(k) match for employees from 3% to 5%. Visa, actually matches its employees 401(k) contributions 2-to-1, so that’s like a 4% pay bump for employees that can get the full match. Considering Visa paid out $58 million in 401(k) contributions last year, it might expect an increase of about $40 million annually due to the increased benefit. It’s one of the more generous employee bonuses in the wake of tax reform.

Visa holds a significant amount of cash overseas, and benefits from the lower repatriation tax in the new tax law. It will pay $1.1 billion over the next eight years to repatriate its cash, but that’s about half of what it was expecting to pay prior to tax reform. That $1.1 billion one-time tax benefit is on top of the tax benefits Visa will gain from the ongoing lower corporate tax rate. It’s no wonder it has room to offer a generous boost to its employee benefits.



Walmart CEO meeting with associates.

Source: Walmart

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35. Walmart

Walmart (NYSE: WMT) announced an increase in the starting wage for its employees from $10 per hour to $11 per hour back in January. Those employees that weren’t impacted by the increased starting wage received a bonus between $200 and $1,000 based on tenure. Management also extended parental leave to 10-weeks for maternal and six weeks for paternal, as well as a pledge to contribute up to $5,000 to the cost of adopting a child. Many have pointed out Walmart may have raised wages even without the tax cuts in an effort to increase employer retention.

Walmart’s wage increase will cost it about $300 million annually. The bonuses will add another $400 million. But Walmart stands to benefit a lot more from the lower corporate tax rate. Walmart had an effective tax rate of 30.4% in fiscal 2018 and 30.3% in 2017, and could see a significant drop this year with the new 21% corporate tax rate. Considering it had a tax bill of $4.6 billion last year and $6 billion the year before, it could result in substantial savings.

ALSO READ: Why the Bears Are Wrong About Walmart



Waste Management employee stands by a garbage truck.

Source: Waste Management

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36. Waste Management

Waste Management (NYSE: WM) employees who aren’t in a bonus or incentive program, about 34,000 employees in total, received a $2,000 cash bonus this year.

Management said it expects to save about $275 million this year due to changes in the tax code. About $70 million of that will go to the employee bonuses, and another $150 million will go toward refreshing the truck fleet and other capital expenses. Waste Management stands to further benefit from the increased capital spending due to the new accelerated depreciation schedule in the new tax code.

The company is also going to use some of its tax savings to become more aggressive with mergers and acquisitions. It typically spends between $100 million and $200 million per year on acquisitions, but that number could climb in light of tax reform.



Wells Fargo bank branch.

Source: Wells Fargo

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37. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) smartly avoided paying out bonuses to its employees in the wake of tax reform. The company has a murky history with employee bonuses. Instead, it increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour, pushing competing banks to do the same. It’s unclear whether that pay raise is linked to the tax cuts as Wells Fargo’s press team has issued conflicting reports. Wells Fargo is also planning to donate $400 million to nonprofits this year.

Wells Fargo stands to benefit from the 14 percentage point decrease in the U.S. corporate tax rate more than most other companies. Nearly all of its operations take place in the U.S. As a result, its effective tax rate could fall to about 22% this year, according to Goldman Sachs analysts, down from 33% last year. That would result in about $3.7 billion in tax savings. Even with a $1 billion fine hanging over its head, Wells Fargo is making out quite well from tax reform.



Cash raining down on a celebrating young man.

Source: Getty Images

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Companies will still come out ahead

There are many more companies that offered wage increases, bonuses, and other employee benefits in the wake of tax reform. Over 400 companies have announced plans to pass on some of their savings to employees in some form, with 4 million-plus workers receiving over $4 billion in bonuses, according to the GOP.

Corporations should still come out well ahead even after paying out employee bonuses. The corporate tax cuts are permanent, and most companies opted to pay a relatively small one-time bonus compared to the benefits they’ll see this year alone. It’s also unclear if the wage and benefits plan increases are more closely tied to the tax cuts or a booming job market where companies are forced to compete more aggressively for labor.

American workers are seeing more money in their pockets this year, but they need to save that money because it’s likely a one-time bonus and the personal income tax cuts aren’t permanent.

Adam Levy owns shares of Apple, Express Scripts, Lowe's, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Apple, CarMax, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Mastercard, Starbucks, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Verizon Communications and Visa and has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple, short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple, short September 2018 $180 calls on Home Depot, and long January 2020 $110 calls on Home Depot. The Motley Fool recommends Aflac, Amerco, CVS Health, FedEx, Home Depot, JetBlue Airways, and Marriott International. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.



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