Newell Reveals New SEC Subpoena, On Hook for Potential $220 Million Tax Bill

The new subpoena is the second from the SEC and indicates company’s disclosures and accounting are being scrutinized.

February 18, 2022

Consumer products maker Newell (NWL) has received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding its disclosures related to trouble it may have with U.S. Treasury Department regulations.

The regulations seek to retroactively limit certain tax deductions the company took in 2018. If Newell loses litigation in the matter, the company would recognize income tax expense of $180-$220 million, equal to the tax benefit it says the new regulation is reversing in retrospect.

Here’s where the SEC comes in.

The retroactive regulations Newell is fighting took effect August 21, 2020. But the company did not account for the possible financial impact of the regulation— which the company says weren’t validly issued— in either of the periods ending December 31, 2020 or 2021.

In its latest 10-K, Newell suggests the SEC is now probing whether the company appropriately disclosed the potential liability:

“On June 30, 2021, the Company received a subpoena from the SEC requesting the production of documents related to its disclosure of the potential impact of the U.S. Treasury regulations…”

The SEC is already probing Newell on an unrelated matter. The company has been responding to a subpoena and informal document requests related to its sales practices and certain accounting matters beginning January 1, 2016.

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