Courtesy new tax, Netflix's cash bonuses become salary

2017-12-29 17:44 - Alicia Ritcey and Jenn Zhao, Bloomberg
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New York - Netflix's top executives will now get paid in full no matter how the company does, thanks to the Republican tax plan.

The streaming-video provider is scrapping its cash bonuses, instead making the payments to top executives as salary. The recently passed tax plan eliminates companies’ ability to deduct performance-based bonuses to managers who are paid more than $1 million, so Netflix just decided to lump all cash payments into executives’ salaries.

Netflix implemented the cash bonus structure in 2015 to take advantage of the tax deductions it could make at the time. In that year and in 2016, executives got either their full target bonus or slightly less. The data for 2017 isn’t yet available.

Next year, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos will get a salary of $12m, more than his salary and cash bonus target combined for 2017. Greg Peters, who was promoted this year to chief product officer, will get $6m in salary, also bigger than his combined total for 2017.

Netflix’s management team is still getting most of its pay through stock-based incentive compensation. 

Netflix shares have gained 56% this year. Press representatives for the company didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Other companies including Goldman Sachs and Jefferies have also made compensation changes because of the new tax plan.

Goldman accelerated the payment of stock awards that were due to be paid next month, which a person briefed on the move said will save the firm about $100m and slightly benefit the individuals collectively.

Jefferies gave employees the option to get their bonus cheques in either December or January as some bankers and traders may find it more advantageous to have a bigger income in 2017 with existing deductions in place, while others may benefit from next year’s lower tax rates. 

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