Big corporate tax cut could mean temporary hit to Humana's botto - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Big corporate tax cut could mean temporary hit to Humana's bottom line

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One of Louisville-based Humana's downtown buildings One of Louisville-based Humana's downtown buildings

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  Corporations are set to get a huge tax cut next year from the tax overhaul bill that Republicans in Washington were on the verge of finalizing Tuesday.

But for Louisville-based Humana Inc., the sweeping changes could actually hurt the company’s bottom line -- at least, temporarily.

The final version of the tax bill would slash the rate U.S. companies pay on their income to 21 percent, from 35 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal.

But such a change could have a “material adverse impact” on Humana’s net income, or profits, when it takes effect, the company said in a regulatory filing last week.

That’s because Humana has “deferred tax assets” whose value could “significantly decrease” if U.S. corporate taxes are reduced, the company said.

Deferred tax assets are credits against future taxes – and if taxes go down, those credits aren’t worth as much as they used to be, said Jay Knight, a Nashville securities lawyer who used to work at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The credits come from things like operating losses for past businesses, which can be applied to reduce taxes on future profits, he said.

Knight, a Louisville native, said many companies besides Humana may have to write down the value of their “tax assets” after passage of the bill. He called it a “sleeper issue” in a recent blog post.

Humana’s filing did not disclose the value of its tax assets or the potential hit to its bottom line from the tax bill. Humana spokesman Tom Noland did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

In its annual report filed in February, Humana said it had $399 million in “net deferred income tax assets” at the end of 2016. The company’s net income was $614 million last year.

Any negative impact would likely be a one-time event, Knight said, meaning the company still stands to reap the rewards of lower taxes.

“I still think it’s a benefit – a lower tax rate is better for the company in the long run,” he said.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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