Goldman Sachs takes $5bn tax hit


New York – Goldman Sachs says the US tax reform will cut profit this year by about $5 billion, mainly because of a tax targeting earnings held abroad.

About two-thirds of the hit comes from the repatriation tax, while writing down US deferred tax assets also contributed, the company said in a filing on Friday. The bank also accelerated the delivery of previously granted stock awards to many of its top executives to lower its taxable profit subject to this year’s higher rates.

While bank stocks have rallied on the tax bill’s lower corporate rates, the new law requires charges in the near-term as foreign earnings face taxation and the value of deferred tax assets declines.

Citigroup said it expects a hit of as much as $20bn, while Bank of America will take a $3bn charge and Credit Suisse is at risk of posting a third consecutive annual loss.

The old tax regime allowed companies to defer US taxes until they brought back earnings held abroad. Under the new law, US companies’ overseas income held as cash would be subject to a 15.5% rate, while non-cash holdings would face an 8% rate. Companies can make the payments in eight annual instalments.

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Goldman Sachs, which gets more than 40% of its revenue outside the US, had $31.2bn in earnings reinvested abroad as of the end of 2016, according to a regulatory filing.

Brian Kleinhanzl, an analyst at investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, said in a note on Friday that he’d estimated Goldman Sachs’ total charge from the tax bill would be $3.2bn and that increasing the charge will reduce his estimate for fourth-quarter tangible book value.

Still, “overall we view the signing of the tax bill as a positive for GS and the universal bank group, and we recently increased our estimates to incorporate the tax changes”, he wrote in the note to investors.

Companies have to account for the tax changes in the period in which they were enacted. That’s left corporate accounting departments scrambling after President Donald Trump signed the bill into law last week.

Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein was among managers receiving stock awards that were granted as compensation in years prior to 2017 and were due to be paid next month. The firm made a similar move in 2012 before new tax rates came into effect.

The acceleration results in about $140 million in tax savings for the firm, while the individuals collectively will see a slight benefit, according to a person briefed on the move.

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