Local banks to save millions from corporate tax cut
Hawaii’s four largest banks gave unexpected stocking stuffers to employees over the long holiday weekend in the form of bonuses and minimum wage increases.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
Hawaii’s four largest banks gave unexpected stocking stuffers to employees over the long holiday weekend in the form of
bonuses and minimum wage increases.
The banks said the bonus and wage increase were made possible by the tax cuts signed into law Friday by President Donald Trump.
And while the bank employees stand to gain from the change, the banks will be the biggest winner as their taxes will be cut — in some cases — by tens of millions of dollars.
Bank of Hawaii, which was the first local bank to announce a $1,000 bonus to most employees and a new minimum wage of $15 an hour, could realize $35 million to $40 million in savings after taxes from the corporate tax cut, according to Nashville, Tenn.-based bank analyst Brett Rabatin. He said he expects Central
Pacific Bank, which is also giving out $1,000 bonuses
to most employees and increasing its minimum wage to $15.25 an hour, could save $9 million to $10 million in taxes.
Rabatin, who covers both of those companies for
Piper Jaffray &Co., couldn’t comment on the other
two banks — First Hawaiian Bank and American Savings Bank — because he doesn’t track them for his brokerage firm. Other analysts could not be reached for comment.
First Hawaiian is awarding $1,500 bonuses to most employees and raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, while American Savings is giving out $1,000 bonuses
to most of its employees and boosting its minimum wage to $15.25 an hour.
All the banks cited the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul as providing the impetus for the employee bonuses and wage increases. The federal corporate tax rate will be
reduced to 21 percent from 35 percent starting Monday.
Rabatin said the moves by the banks make sense.
“You’re going to have people say this tax cut is only for the rich people and only for corporate and doesn’t help the little person, but I don’t think that’s true,” he said. “What happens essentially is if you lower the corporate tax rate, it makes U.S. companies more competitive globally and helps them to reinvest in U.S.-based operations. You help them to be further competitive locally and pay their employees better and reinvest back into their operations, whether that’s people or new infrastructure. I think it’s going to result in significant broad-based economic growth next year.”
Rabatin said he expects Hawaii banks in general to see their earnings per share increase by 18 percent in 2018. That was the same projected increase for the average U.S. bank announced recently by Florida-based Raymond James Financial Services Inc.
Peter Ho, chairman, president and CEO of Bank of Hawaii, said he can’t comment on future earnings.
“I will say that we were pleased to be the leader in the local industry’s efforts to improve wages at the lower end of our wage scale in part as a result of the recently enacted tax legislation,” Ho said.
First Hawaiian Chairman and CEO Bob Harrison said with tax reform passing
that the bank expects its tax rate to decrease from over 37 percent in 2017 to 24 to 25 percent.
“With unemployment in Hawaii in the low 2 percent (area), we are effectively at full employment,” he said. “With or without tax reform, we are seeing wages increase, which is why we made a salary adjustment (to minimum wage) in October and another last week. The important thing for First Hawaiian is to not just pay a competitive wage, but to
offer an environment that fosters innovation, collaboration and an opportunity for individuals to make a meaningful difference within our organization and our community.”
Central Pacific spokesman Wayne Kirihara said due to federal regulations he couldn’t disclose the expected amount of tax savings over a full year.
However, he said “to put the tax benefit in perspective, for the first nine months of 2017, we reported income before taxes of $57.5 million. So, if we assume a 14 percent reduction in our tax rate, all else being equal, we would have paid roughly $8 million less in income taxes over the nine months.”
Rabatin said it’s not surprising that all the banks more or less matched each other.
“If one bank announces something like this, I think the others have to follow suit,” he said. “It doesn’t
surprise me that they’ve all pretty much done the same thing. You’re talking about super high employment, and it’s hard to find people. There’s a lot of demand for folks in the service industry.”