2017 year-end report: Corporate bonuses replaced by corporate charitable giving

Written on Jan 03, 2018

A new report from CBS News’ “Moneyworks” found that only 63% of companies said they planned to give year-end bonuses, down from 75% the year before. The 38% of those not giving bonuses said they would be giving to charity instead. That’s some increase from 2015 and 2016, when the percentages were 5% and 7%, respectively.

“It’s a pretty drastic increase,” said Jeramy Kaiman, vice president at Accounting Principals.

“The financial incentive to give out more bonuses by the end of this year is for the corporation to have more business deductions in 2017 while the tax rate is high,” said Mildred Carter, a senior federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting.

And, as another market analyst reflecting on the numbers of natural disasters suggests, it also gives a quick boost in a more values-conscious market.

The benefits follow to the entity seen as making the donation. If a company grants the income to employees and then lets them make their own donations directly, those employees will receive the tax benefit. But what may be happening here is that the company makes the donation and therefore receives the tax benefit. Individual employees are left out of both the income and the act of charitable giving. Thus, nonprofits may not want to get too excited by a 2017 increase in corporate charitable dollars.

This year, though, charities may not split hairs when receiving higher donations from corporations; they’re just happy to see more year-end donations, since the impacts of the new tax bill on 2018 giving are unclear at best and feared to be disastrous for promoting giving at worst, with “an estimated loss of giving between $12 and $20 billion in 2018.”

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