Wall Street May Dish Out Bonuses Early to Avoid Taxes

Executives could lose tens of thousands if paid early next year
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2010 8:59 AM CST
Fabrice Tourre, a 31-year-old trader at Goldman Sachs is watched on a television monitor in the Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in this April 27, 2010 file photo.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(Newser) – Wall Street is worried: If Congress fails to extend the Bush tax cuts for the nation’s highest earners, then any bonuses paid early next year—the normal time frame—will cost a typical worker an extra $40,000 to $50,000 in taxes on a $1 million bonus. So even though it appears the tax cuts will be extended for all earning levels, Goldman Sachs and most other major banks are considering moving up their payout dates to this month, the New York Times reports.

Companies beyond banks are having similar discussions, but in those cases only the top executives would likely be helped—on Wall Street, even mid-level financial workers can earn more than $250,000 a year, much of that in early-year bonuses. However, seeing as this year could be one of the best ever for bank pay and bonuses are going up, it’s “probably not the time to draw attention to yourself,” says a consultant. “I really would be surprised if anyone went down this path.” Indeed, he adds, banks are looking for ways to make the payouts look better to the public—like calling them “long-term incentives” rather than bonuses.

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