Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Comcast, AT&T trickle down $1K bonuses to employees after corporate tax bonanza

Judith Alexander | 24 December, 2017, 03:36

Conscious that tax-cut opponents have latched on to the fact that one of the bill's biggest provisions is to cut the US corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, AT&T, Wells Fargo, Comcast, Boeing and Fifth Third Bancorp. quickly announced on Wednesday that they would pass along some of the anticipated tax savings to their employees in forms ranging from outright bonuses to facilities and training investments.

Telecommunications company Comcast, which owns NBC, announced that it will give bonuses of $1,000 to more than 100,000 employees because of the passage of tax reform.

Wells Fargo said it will boost its minimum wage to $15 an hour, as well as donate $400 million to nonprofit and community organizations. When lawmakers tried to explain how the bill will help regular people, examples tended to include complex family and income scenarios.

Fifth Third will also raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour for employees and give bonuses of $1,000 to more than 13,500 employees.

Also, some companies have strategic reasons to curry favor with the Trump administration.

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Others expressed skepticism and called the announced bonuses a public relations stunt that came off as disingenuous, given the pay gap between average workers and executives, and given the timing of those bonuses that some say were earned through union negotiations. The Justice Department is suing to block the $85 billion merger, which Trump said in November was "not good for the country".

AT&T said in a statement that once the Act is signed into law, it plans to invest an additional $1 billion in the United States during 2018.

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"Congress, working closely with the President, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by USA businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world", AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement.

"U.S. GDP could increase materially next year as a result of U.S. tax reform", chief financial officer Alan Graf said, according to the Washington Post. AT&T plans to increase USA capital spending $1 billion and provide [a] $1,000 special bonus to more than 200,000 USA employees, and that's because of what we did.

Republican senators, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump praised the announcements.

Commentators, however, questioned whether those firms announcing benefits for their staff could have broader motives beyond staff morale. Companies are mostly expected to buy back stock or pay down debt with their savings.

After the Republican Congress passed a massive corporate tax break that will save them billions over the next few years, Comcast and AT&T loudly touted the handout of millions of dollars in employee bonuses.

In her Thursday news conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., singled out AT&T by name. "So all of a sudden they're advertising this as something they did because of the tax bill".

"They made a big announcement that they were going to give a bonus to their workers, to kind of pin a rose on this tax bill", Pelosi said.

"That's because of what we did", Trump said of AT&T.

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