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401k Tax Bill Triumph or Phony PR Stunt?

Aflac will increase its 401k match

401k, taxes, Donald Trump, AflacIs it a worker windfall or more hot air?

We’re hoping for the former, but who really knows? The passage of the president’s tax reform overhaul brought with it announcements from several large corporations of bonuses and pay raises for workers.

AT&T promised of $1,000 to more than 200,000 employees. Boeing followed suit with a pledge of $300 million on “employee-related and charitable investments.”

Wells Fargo, in need of good news following a spate of high profile lawsuits, said it would increase its minimum hourly pay rate from $13.50 to $15 beginning in March.

And now health insurance giant Aflac is getting in with a bump to its 401k match.

As a result of the recent “tax reforms enacted by Congress and signed into law by the president,” the company said will increase its 401k employer match from 50 percent to 100 percent on the first 4 percent of employee contribution while making a one-time contribution of $500 to every employee’s 401k plan.

While hailed as proof by Republicans and supporters of the immediate benefits of the tax plan, detractors alternately dismissed the various announcements as either cynical PR stunts or “payback” for favorable treatment from the administration.

“Specifically, liberals noted the curious coincidence that most of the companies validating ‘Trumponomics’ have an enormous financial interest in maintaining warm relations with the executive branch,” New York magazine wrote in the announcements’ aftermath. “The Justice Department has sued to block AT&T’s desired merger with Time Warner; if the telecom giant cannot reach a settlement with the DOJ that allows that merger to go forward, it stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Comcast and Wells Fargo also have much to gain and lose from federal regulatory policy, “as the fights over net neutrality and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have well-illustrated,” the publication added. “Boeing’s bread and butter are government contracts.”

In addition to increasing its 401k match, Aflac said it will also offer certain hospital and accident insurance products to all employees free of charge, as the company currently does with its core cancer insurance product.

It expects to increase overall investment in the U.S. by approximately $250 million over three to five years.

“We are pleased that these tax reforms provide Aflac with an opportunity to increase our investments in initiatives that reflect our company values; providing for our employees in the long and short term, ensuring future growth for our company and giving back to the community,” Aflac chairman and CEO Dan Amos said in a statement. “We will use these funds to help secure healthy retirements, develop employee skills in an evolving global business climate, and provide additional protections for our workers and their families.”

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