Tax Managers Forecast Tax Windfall Allocation

Almost all U.S. companies that benefit financially from the new tax law will ramp up domestic capital investment, tax managers say.
David McCannApril 17, 2018
Tax Managers Forecast Tax Windfall Allocation

Various reports have appeared suggesting what U.S. companies will do with the extra cash they’ll be pocketing courtesy of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). But here’s one from a unique perspective: that of corporate tax executives themselves.

Within that population, it’s a nearly unanimous expectation that companies will increase domestic capital spending as a result of the laws. Ninety-four percent of tax managers surveyed by law firm Miller & Chevalier and the National Foreign Trade Council said so.

Correspondingly, with the new tax law expected to trigger the repatriation of hundreds of billions of dollars that U.S. companies had stashed in foreign countries, capital investment abroad appears set to decline. A majority (58%) of the 93 survey participants said they expected that outcome.

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Shareholders, as most observers figured, will get their share of the windfall, but perhaps less than some believed. Just 21% of survey respondents said some of the money will be used to increase or institute share-buyback programs, while only 26% said shareholder dividends will get a bump.

Slightly more tax executives than that (29%) said corporate debt would decrease as a result of the TCJA.

One in five survey participants (21%) said companies would hike employee bonuses, while 15% expected wage increases and 11% predicted enhanced employee benefit packages.

Some companies won’t have to decide what to do with cash generated by the tax-law changes, because they won’t have any. Those that don’t generate taxable income or have overseas cash to repatriate won’t benefit, of course.

Overall, 19% of those surveyed said the new tax law would have little to no impact on their companies’ taxes. And 14% said the TCJA will serve to increase their taxes, given such provisions as limitations on the deductibility of interest expense and the newly adopted base erosion and anti-abuse tax.

Most of the respondents indicated they’ll need the government’s help implementing the tax-law changes; 73% of them expect to seek regulatory or other administrative guidance.

Additionally, 61% of the tax managers plan to seek technical corrections to the law, which Congress typically makes following tax-law revisions. However, almost half of respondents (44%) expressed concern that competing priorities mean Congress won’t be able to effectively enact such corrections in a timely manner.

Meanwhile, on top of the leap in U.S. companies’ domestic investments, tax professionals were highly optimistic about foreign direct investment in the United States: 93% of them expected it to increase.

However, 23% of respondents worried about the TJCA’s ability to endure following the 2018 and 2020 elections.