The Effects of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 on Defined Benefit Pension Contributions
Posted: 31 Mar 2020
Date Written: March 24, 2020
This study examines the effect of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) on corporate defined benefit pension contributions. The TCJA decreases the corporate tax rate from 35 in 2017 to 21 percent in 2018, and thereafter. This change incentivizes firms to increase 2017 pension contributions to take advantage of tax deductions at a higher rate. Consistent with this incentive, we find firms increase defined benefit pension contributions by an average of 25 to 31 percent in 2017 compared to earlier years. We also find that taxpaying firms are the primary contributors. Further, taxpaying firms with high levels of pension-related deferred tax assets contribute over three times as much as taxpaying firms with low levels of pension-related deferred tax assets. We also find firms that increase in pension contributions in 2017 reduce 2018 contributions, consistent with intertemporal income shifting rather than a permanent change in pension funding strategy.
Keywords: pension, tax incentives, tax reform, deferred tax
JEL Classification: H26, H71, H72
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