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This big Charlotte firm won't deliver Trump tax bonuses to its workers. Here's why.

Duke Energy’s headquarters tower in Charlotte. Unlike some other major companies, the utility's employees won't be seeing any bonuses or raises in response to new federal tax changes, a Duke executive said Thursday.
Duke Energy’s headquarters tower in Charlotte. Unlike some other major companies, the utility's employees won't be seeing any bonuses or raises in response to new federal tax changes, a Duke executive said Thursday. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Duke Energy has seen lower corporate taxes as a result of last year's federal tax cuts. But unlike some other major companies, the utility's employees won't be receiving any bonuses or raises in response to the tax changes, a Duke executive said Thursday.

Bank of America, Wells Fargo and American Airlines are among the Charlotte area's largest employers that are passing the tax cuts on to their rank-and-file. But at Charlotte-based Duke, the focus is on sharing the benefits of lower taxes with customers, Chief Financial Officer Steve Young said.

"There will be no bonuses or raises because of tax reform to Duke employees," Young said. "As a regulated utility, our focus is on our customers and providing low-cost, reliable service to them. We have to keep that focus."

He added that Duke values its employees and compensates them fairly.

This year, the North Carolina Utilities Commission ordered Duke and other public utilities to explain how they will benefit from the tax cuts, which President Donald Trump signed into law last year.

Duke has recommended the commission let the utility apply its tax savings toward offsetting part of an increase in monthly bills it is seeking for customers in Charlotte and other parts of the state. The commission is expected to issue a determination on Duke's rate-hike request late this month or in early June, the company said Thursday.

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A number of companies across the U.S. announced awards of one-time bonuses and higher wages following the tax overhaul, which slashed what companies pay on their profits from 35 percent to 21 percent.

Duke disclosed Thursday its tax rate for the first three months of this year was 22.5 percent, down from 32.4 percent in the same period last year. Its income tax expense was cut almost in half, dropping to $181 million from $344 million a year ago.

The company made the disclosures as it reported a first-quarter profit of $620 million, down from $716 million a year earlier.



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