NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. firms have started what many believe to be a spin war, possibly using the passage of the health care reform legislation to temper expectations for their coming quarters.

The latest to join these ranks of companies is 3M ( MMM). The company announced in an SEC filing on March 26 that under the new law, 3M will be taking a one-time non-cash charge to 3M's earnings in the first quarter of 2010 of about $85 to $90 million after tax, which is about 12 cents per share.

3M said that the elimination of a tax-advantaged subsidy to encourage companies to provide retiree prescription drug coverage will result in a reduction of the value of the company's deferred tax asset related to the subsidy -- despite expectations that the elimination of this tax advantage does not take effect until 2013.

On Friday, AT&T ( T) filed a similar statement of its own. The company said in an SEC filing that it intends to take a non-cash charge of about $1 billion in the first quarter of 2010 to reflect the impact of a change in the tax treatment of the Medicare Part D subsidy under the health care reform law. As a result of this legislation, including the additional tax burden, AT&T will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health care benefits offered by the company.

From Deere ( DE) and Caterpillar ( CAT) to Verizon ( VZ) and Medtronic ( MDT), U.S. firms in recent days have seized the opportunity to announce the impact of the new health care law on their bottom lines.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York


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