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Senate Passes Tax Reform Bill

In the early hours of December 2, the Senate passed its own tax reform bill. While passage of the bill seemed improbable as recently as last Thursday, Senate Republicans were able to overcome objections within their own caucus with last minute tinkering to their tax proposal. Up next is the reconciliation process during which House and Senate Republicans will iron out differences between their respective tax reform bills. At this point, passage and enactment of a reconciled tax reform bill appears to be highly likely prior to year-end.

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Under the Senate bill, changes to the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) would be effective for tax years beginning after 2017, except for the change in the corporate income tax rate would first become effective in 2019. Under the House tax…

ISS Issues 2018 Final Policy Updates and Additional Guidance on Pay-for-Performance Assessment and Equity Plan Evaluations

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has issued final updates to its proxy voting policies for 2018 and significant guidance through a series of FAQs on certain U.S. compensation policies, including its methodologies for assessing pay for performance and equity plan proposals.

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Final Policy Updates for 2018 The policy updates and guidance revise ISS proxy voting policies and methodologies for U.S.-listed companies in the following areas relating to executive compensation and corporate governance: ■ ISS quantitative pay-for-performance assessment, ■ ISS Equity Plan…

House Passes Tax Reform Bill

On November 16th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its tax reform bill by a vote of 227 to 205.

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The tax reform bill approved by the full House does not substantively differ from the bill previously approved by the House Ways and Means Committee, as described in our Client Updates dated November 7, 2017 and November 10, 2017. Therefore,…

Senate Proposal on Tax Reform

On the heels of the House tax proposal, the Senate Republicans released their own tax reform proposal on November 9, 2017. The Senate tax proposal departs from the House Republicans’ tax proposal in several significant respects, including with regard to the effective date of the change in corporate tax rates. Generally, the Senate Republicans’ proposed changes to the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) would be effective for tax years beginning after 2017. However, under the Senate tax proposal, the change in the corporate income tax rate would first become effective in 2019, while under the House tax proposal this change would first become effective in 2018.

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We expect further changes to be made in both the House and Senate tax proposals. Ultimately, any differences between the House and Senate proposals would need to be addressed during the reconciliation process. This Update first summarizes the Senate tax…

House Tax Bill Amendment Removes Controversial Provision on Nonqualified Deferred Compensation

The House Ways and Means Committee amended the House tax reform bill to eliminate the proposed and potentially sweeping changes to the tax treatment of nonqualified deferred compensation plans and certain equity awards.

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This means that the current tax law treatment of nonqualified deferred compensation and equity awards, such as RSUs, PSUs, SARs and nonqualified stock options, remains unchanged. However, the House tax bill changes to Section 162(m) of the Interal Revenue Code…

House Proposal on Tax Reform

On November 2, 2017, the House Republicans issued a sweeping tax reform bill that generally adheres to the themes of President Trump’s previous tax proposals, except that it includes a number of surprises involving executive compensation. Generally, the proposed changes to the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) would be effective for tax years beginning after 2017.

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President Trump hopes to have a tax reform bill to sign by Thanksgiving. We believe that this timeframe is overly optimistic, given that the legislative process on the bill has just begun. Further, while House Republicans may be able to…

Proxy Advisors and Investors Announce How They Will Use CEO Pay Ratios in 2018

The major proxy advisors and three large institutional shareholders announced that CEO pay ratios will have little to no impact on their vote recommendations and vote decisions, respectively, in 2018.

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At a recent conference hosted by CompensationStandards.com, David Kokell, Vice President of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), stated that CEO pay ratios will not have any impact on ISS’s analysis or vote recommendations in 2018. However, ISS will include the information…

ISS 2017–2018 Policy Survey Summary of Key Items

ISS’s recent Policy Survey previews potential changes in its 2018 proxy voting policies.

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Each year, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) surveys institutional investors, public companies (“issuers”) and the consulting and legal community on emerging corporate governance and executive compensation issues as part of its annual policy formulation process. Issuers and their advisors are collectively…

President Trump Proposal on Tax Reform

President Trump’s proposed tax plan is largely similar to the plan outlined by the White House in July – large cut in corporate tax rate, reduction in individual tax rates with consolidation of tax brackets, elimination of most deductions and increase in the standard deduction.

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The White House issued President Trump’s proposal on tax reform entitled “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code.” The tax proposal provides slightly more details than the one issued in July, but remains a work in progress. The President…

SEC Issues New Guidance on CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure Rule

Last Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Division of Corporation Finance issued new guidance on the CEO pay ratio disclosure rule. The issuance of the new guidance lays to rest any remaining hope that the SEC will delay or significantly modify the CEO pay ratio disclosure requirement.

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Public companies and practitioners who were hoping for a comprehensive set of new guidance to address many of the vexing issues underlying the pay ratio rule generally will be disappointed by the limited nature of the guidance. However, the guidance…

NYC Pension Fund Launches Campaign for Enhanced Board Diversity Disclosure

The New York City Comptroller’s Office recently announced that it launched the next phase of the Boardroom Accountablity Project, in which the Comptroller, on behalf of New York City Pension Funds, is seeking enhanced disclosure and engagement with 151 major public companies on board composition, diversity and refreshment.

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In November 2014, the Boardroom Accountability Project initiated the first phase of its campaign, in which the New York City Pension Funds petitioned for public companies to adopt proxy access. The initial campaign successfully resulted in widespread adoption of proxy…

SEC Official Confirms that the SEC Will Not Delay CEO Pay Ratio Disclosure

Last Friday, an official of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) confirmed that the SEC will not delay the effective date of the CEO pay ratio disclosure rule and that the SEC staff will be issuing additional guidance on the rule.

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At the American Bar Association Annual Meeting, Bill Hinman, SEC Director of the Division of Corporation Finance said that the SEC would not delay the implementation of CEO pay ratio rule. In addition, Mr. Hinman stated that SEC staff would…

White House Nixes Proposal to Expand Employer Reporting to Include Pay Data

The Trump administration recently informed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that it is reviewing and immediately staying the effectiveness of employer requirements to report extensive pay data.

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Currently, private sector employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50 or more employees are required each year to submit to the EEOC on Form EEO-1 the number of individuals employed by job category and by race,…

Institutional Shareholder Services Releases its 2018 Policy Survey Questionnaire

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) recently issued its policy survey questionnaire, which previews potential changes in ISS’s 2018 proxy voting policies.

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Through its annual policy survey, ISS seeks feedback from institutional investors, public companies, corporate directors and the consulting and legal communities on emerging trends in corporate governance, executive compensation and other matters as part of its policy formulation process. The…

House Approves Financial CHOICE Act

On June 8, 2017, the U.S. House of Representative approved the Financial CHOICE Act (“CHOICE Act”), which, if approved by the Senate and signed by President Trump, would repeal and roll back significant portions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”). The House vote was 233 to 186, with one Republican opposing and not a single Democrat supporting the CHOICE Act.

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As reported in Meridian Client Update of May 12, 2017, the principal focus of the CHOICE Act is the banking provisions of Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. However, the CHOICE Act, if enacted, would make the following changes…

House Committee Approves Bill to Repeal Key Provisions of Dodd-Frank

On May 4, 2017, the House Financial Services Committee approved the Financial CHOICE Act (“CHOICE Act”) to repeal and roll back significant pieces of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”). The Committee voted to send the CHOICE Act to the House floor, 34-26, along party lines.

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The principal focus of the CHOICE Act is the banking provisions of Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In addition, the CHOICE Act includes provisions relating to agency rulemaking requirements, judicial review of agency actions and capital formation. In…

President Trump Unveils Proposed Tax Plan

President Trump’s proposed tax plan is largely similar to the plan he proposed during the presidential campaign—large cut in corporate tax rate, reduction in individual tax rates with consolidation of tax brackets, elimination of most deductions and increase in the standard deduction.

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The proposed tax plan represents a broad-brush proposal rather than a detailed tax plan. Significant work lies ahead for the Trump administration to iron out the key points of the tax proposal so that it will be acceptable to the…

Jay Clayton Confirmed as SEC Chair

President Trump’s nominee for Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Jay Clayton, has been confirmed by the Senate.

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Jay Clayton, a Wall Street securities attorney, will be sworn in this week as the Chair of the SEC. The Senate confirmed Mr. Clayton’s nomination on May 2, 2017. After Mr. Clayton is sworn in, the SEC will have three…

States and Municipalities Propose CEO Pay Ratio Tax

Looking to raise taxes or to make political statements, several states and municipalities have proposed tax revenue schemes tied to a public company’s proxy-disclosed CEO pay ratio.

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Although the fate of the CEO pay ratio disclosure may be uncertain, this has not deterred certain states and municipalities from proposing new taxes on public companies tied to a company’s disclosed CEO pay ratio (or some variant). In fact,…

Acting SEC Chair Signals Possible Delay in Implementation of Pay Ratio Rule

Chair Piwowar has called for public comment on rule compliance issues.

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Yesterday, Acting Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Michael Piwowar issued a public statement in which he has asked for comments about delaying the implementation of the CEO pay ratio rule. Under current rules, the CEO pay ratio rule became…