With Bigger Bonuses, Another Upside for Banks

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Published in The New York Times, January 1, 2010 by Lynnley Browning 

Along with Wall Street’s resurgent bonuses will come a jump in an ancillary benefit: tax breaks.
For all banks and Wall Street firms, “I’m sure we’re talking $200 billion total compensation, which would create a tax savings for the firms of $80 billion,” said Robert Willens, an accounting and tax analyst in New York who runs a consulting firm, Robert Willens LLC. The figure does not include bonus plans by hedge funds, which are likely to reduce their payouts after a down year.
The tax deductions, which will increase the bottom line of the banks, are perfectly legal and not new. They come as compensation for 2009 has roared back after the largest banks paid back billions of dollars in federal aid, an outlay still fresh in the minds of taxpayers. As pay goes up, so do the deductions.
Many American banks already pay minuscule federal income taxes, because of various deductions and clever tax planning; the payout-related breaks will reduce their tax bills further in coming years.

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