Wall Street Ready to Claim Billions in Tax Breaks on Bonus Payments

2009 closed with the stock market rebounding 61 percent from its March lows, and “Wall Street is ready to pat itself on the back for its huge gains with big bonuses,” potentially surpassing the record payouts of 2007. Analysts estimate that Wall Street’s 2009 bonus pool could total $200 billion — led by Goldman Sachs’ $23 billion — as the New York Times reported today, the return to big bonuses will also allow Wall Street banks to claim billions in tax breaks:

Many American banks already pay minuscule federal income taxes, because of various deductions and clever tax planning; the payout-related breaks will reduce their tax bills further in coming years…Altogether, the top three Wall Street banks — Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley — will gain nearly $20 billion in tax breaks based on their employee compensation this year.

Compensation related tax deductions will total about $80 billion across Wall Street, according to New York City tax analyst Robert Willens. In 2008, Goldman Sachs paid an effective tax rate of just 1 percent thanks to a variety of deductions and keeping profits offshore.