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Comcast gives nearly 2,000 NH employees $1,000 bonus, citing tax cut

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 20. 2018 4:41PM
The "vast majority" of Comcast's 2,000 New Hampshire employees received $1,000 bonuses, thanks in part to the federal tax reform law. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

The nation's freshly minted tax law already is delivering financial returns for some Granite State workers.

Comcast gave the "vast majority" of its 2,000 New Hampshire workers a $1,000 bonus, thanks in part to federal tax change, spokesman Marc Goodman said.

Citizens Bank also provided 12,500 employees - more than 70 percent of its workforce - a one-time $1,000 cash bonus, totaling $12.5 million.

And more companies are expected to follow suit.

"I hear from all my clients that they have trouble recruiting and retaining great people," said Peter Lachance, a partner at Howe, Riley & Howe, a certified public accounting firm with offices in Bedford and Portsmouth.

Lachance said it "wouldn't surprise me" if more businesses shared a portion of their tax savings to retain employees.

"You can see that some big companies are giving bonuses out to their good people." Lachance said. "Almost all businesses are going to see some form of relief from this," he said, though there will be "certain very specifically nuanced businesses that don't."

Some businesses will be able to take deductions more quickly for buying new equipment, such as computers, according to tax attorney and CPA Steven Burke at the McLane Middleton Professional Association in Manchester.

"They can expense more money faster to write off assets," Burke said. "Some people put off projects at the end of 2017" knowing tax changes could be coming for 2018.

On the flip side, the new tax law eliminated or reduced business deductions for meals and entertainment, Burke said.

"We're hearing more people are realigning their 2018 budgets and reallocating expenses for meals and entertainment to capital expenditures," Burke said. "From an economics standpoint, that's probably a good thing."

Businesses are "looking really at sporting event tickets for business entertainment," Burke said. "That's now nondeductible."

Several companies contacted by the Sunday News last week said they didn't want to comment or didn't return phone calls.

"Unfortunately, I won't be able to share specific changes under consideration," said a spokesman for Fidelity Investments, which employs 5,200 in New Hampshire.

"Fidelity continues to evaluate opportunities to improve employee satisfaction and attract key talent to New Hampshire, where we have over 5,000 employees," said Meg Reilly, senior director of policy research and communications at Fidelity.

For businesses, benefiting from the tax bill will depend on what type of structure they organized under, such as a corporation versus a limited liability company (LLC).

A sole proprietorship dentist making $300,000 a year may be able to take a new 20 percent deduction, which would amount to a $60,000 deduction that the dentist wasn't eligible for in 2017, Howe said. With a tax bracket of 24 percent, that dentist would receive an extra $14,400 in tax relief.

Some corporations, meanwhile, will see their tax bracket drop from 35 percent to 21 percent.

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