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The consequences of tax reform in 2017 continue to be seen today, 18 months after Congress cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent. Case in point: Casey’s General Stores ($CASY), which filed its latest annual report on June 28.

Casey reported broadly pleasing numbers: revenue growth up by 11.5 percent, cost of goods sold up by 11.7 percent, other operating expenses up by only 8.4 percent. Income before taxes was reported at $263.4 million, a 22.8 percent increase from 2018.

Then we get to the tax line item.

As you can see from Figure 1, below, Casey’s tax payments have bounced up and down over the last three years, and that has had an enormous effect on net income.



Taxes yo-yo’ed from a payment of $92.2 million in 2017; to a benefit of $103.5 million in 2018, the first full year of corporate tax reform; back to another payment of $59.5 million in 2019.

So yes, Casey’s is paying less in taxes from here forward thanks to tax reform — but all of its growth in net income came from that corporate tax cut going into effect in 2018.

Moreover, once we read the details via our Interactive Disclosure viewer, we find that most of that tax benefit ($98.2 million of the $103.5 million total) comes from a one-time revaluation of Casey’s deferred tax assets and liabilities. It’s not as if the firm received a $103.5 million rebate check in the mail, which then went to opening more general stories.

Fundamentally, Casey’s revenue is growing, but quite as fast as cost of goods sold, operating expenses, depreciation and amortization, or interest. Hence pretax income in 2019 ($263.4 million) is down 24.4 percent from where it was in 2016 ($348.7 million).

Only a generous accounting maneuver from tax reform let Casey’s hit last year’s net income out of the park. That maneuver is gone, and now Casey’s is struggling at bat.


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