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Smucker’s Sweet Tax Benefit
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Another annual report, another glimpse into how much last year’s corporate tax cut is inflating net profits. Today’s example is J.M. Smucker & Co.

Smucker’s filed its latest annual report this week, and if you look at the top lines of the income statement the company seems like it’s in a bit of a jam. (Yep, we made that joke.) Annual revenue fell 0.48 percent compared to 2017, gross profit was essentially flat, and operating income rose a measly 0.45 percent.

Meanwhile, interest expenses rose and other income fell — all of it adding up to Smucker’s income before taxes falling 1.98 percent.

All that might lead you to conclude that Smucker’s is spread pretty thin. (Yep, we made that joke too.) But then we get to Smucker’s income tax disclosure, and suddenly all starts to turn around.

First, as we’ve seen elsewhere, Smucker’s had the chance to revalue its deferred tax assets and liabilities. That added more than $790 million back to the company’s coffers. Then the company had to pay an additional $26.1 million in the one-time deemed-repatriation tax. The net change: a: $765.8 million benefit.

Add that benefit into all the other taxes and deductions Smuckers is claiming, and the company ends up with a net refund of $477.6 million. Which means its net income after taxes actually increases to $1.34 billion. See Figure 1, below.

Presto. Smuckers reports net income up 126 percent compared to 2017, even though gross profit and operating profit stayed flat, and pre-tax income actually declined by nearly 2 percent.

That’s one way to get out of a sticky situation.


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