Post-tax reform, US companies plan to pour tax savings into growth

It's not all about buybacks; for some, a geographic change-up is in the works. Our survey shows companies spreading tax savings across strategic initiatives.

A clearer picture on spending plans

Companies are making plans on how companies plan to use the estimated net $1.45 trillion 10-year reduction in taxes from the 2017 US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). This includes a $280 billion estimate for 2019.

No matter the starting point—an acquisition strategy, long-term planning or accumulation of shareholder returns—tax reform is giving executives a chance to reset and match cash with strategic plans, according to our survey of 403 US CEOs, CFOs and COOs.

Nearly all executives we surveyed (89%) say they’re seeing tax savings and that these savings will have implications for how they run their businesses. 


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A competitive race? The potential is there, if even a small percentage of companies decide to invest more in acquisitions and strategic investments.

Gearing up to do more

77% say that tax reform will make their company more competitive in the long term and 78% say tax reform has made doing business in the US more attractive

Big shifts for where to do business

The effects are sweeping: 30% of executives say they’re likely to make geographic changes as a direct result of tax reform, and another 34% are considering similar changes. This includes administrative offices, shared services, R&D centers, service points, manufacturing plants and distribution centers.

These are big plans requiring business to holistically model potential costs. International provisions of the Act may interact, leading to unexpected results.

How leaders plan to spend tax savings

With so many options ahead of them and with past spending habits to consider, we wanted to know what business leaders are thinking now as they balance short-term needs and long-term competitive positions. Here’s how they plan to spend:

Eight in ten plan to pump cash into growing stronger capabilities
Growth initiatives
Most are poised to spend on talent
Customers and markets should also see benefits

Key challenges: Will tax savings be used to build something new?

With so much cash on company balance sheets, US companies face competitive pressure to use the tax windfall strategically. Plans to allocate tax savings into next year are diverse, with few self-reported bold moves. While each company has different reasons for different spending decisions, they clearly are preparing to make good use of an opportunity that has not be given to any business leader in more than 30 years.

We believe strategic-minded executives will seize this opportunity and make bold investments ahead of their competitors.

The questions remain

The questions remain

Are you only driving incremental change, or are you positioning your organization to use tax savings to build something new and transformative?

Are you setting a bold vision and identifying the endgame tied to all of this spending?

Are you setting yourself up to win the race?

Reform your business to maximize tax advantages

The cost of doing business is improving for many as an immediate effect of the federal corporate income tax rate reduction from 35% to 21%. Companies should re-evaluate the location of operations such as administrative offices, shared services, R&D centers, service points, manufacturing plants and distribution centers. Taxes should be an important factor in site selection, defined at the beginning of the analysis. By optimizing your footprint today, your organization can develop significant advantages.


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Business leaders are evaluating the gains from tax reform, while tariffs and trade wars are affecting their cost structures. Specific steps should be taken to improve supply chain strategies, including accelerating updates in automation, machine learning, robotics, AI, and other digital capabilities. This will deliver on the promise of an agile supply chain, often in ways that were unthinkable only a few years ago.

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Survey methodology

PwC commissioned a leading market research firm to conduct an online poll of C-Suite executives in the US including CEOs (154), CFOs (130) or COOs (119). The poll was conducted online from April 23rd through May 10th, 2018. 37% of participating executives lead companies with annual revenues of US $1 billion or more and 89% are headquartered in the US. This data is self-reported and is for directional information only.

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Dr. Deniz  Caglar

Dr. Deniz Caglar

Principal, Organization and Workforce Strategy, Strategy&, PwC US

John Ranke

John Ranke

Partner, International Tax, PwC US

Paul Leinwand

Paul Leinwand

Principal, PwC US