2012's Top Tax-Dodging Companies

Posted by Jack Hennigan - Friday, April 13th, 2012

At a recent shareholders meeting, the CEO of one of most profitable companies in the country bragged: “Actually, thanks to our creative book keeping and corporate loopholes, we only pay about $3 in taxes a year.”

OK…so we don’t have any executives from any actual companies on record saying that.

The quote actually comes courtesy of evil magnate Mr. Burn's assistant Smithers from The Simpsons. But a new report from The Citizens for Tax Justice shows that big companies have been getting huge tax breaks -- to the point of not paying any federal incomes taxes at all...  mr burns

Between 2008 and 2010, 30 out of 280 Fortune 500 companies paid no net federal income tax. And in 2011, 26 of those 30 kept on dodging. 

You’ll see plenty of repeat offenders from last year's list, including household names like General Electric and Boeing.

Wells Fargo comes out looking like one of the good guys. Between 2008 and 2010, there effective tax rate was -1.4%, but they got on the other side of nothing in 2011, paying 3.8%. 

The Citizens for Tax Justice say these corporate shenanigans are one major cause of the current deficit.

“Had these 30 companies paid the full 35 percent corporate tax rate over the 2008-11 period, they would have paid $78.3 billion more in federal income taxes. Or put another way, over the four years, the 30 companies received more than $78 billion in total tax subsidies.”

Wells Fargo alone garnered $21.6 billion in tax subsidies over the four years, followed by General Electric ($10.6 billion), Verizon ($7.7 billion), and Boeing ($6.0 billion).”

no tax 

That amount of money would not have erased the deficit completely, but it would have put a sizeable dent in it. Some analysts point out that a lot of the major tax dodgers are also major political donors. Mother Jones took the extra step and linked the top tax dodging companies along with the top recipients of donations from those companies. Here's the top three:

Verizon Communications

Profits: $19.8 billion    Effective tax rate: -3.8%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
President Barack Obama: $51,493
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ): $24,450
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $23,700
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio): $22,500
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY): $15,000

General Electric

Profits: $19.6 billion    Effective tax rate: -18.9%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
Mitt Romney: $53,750
President Barack Obama: $30,493
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.): $23,900
Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.): $21,860
Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.): $19,750


Profits: $14.8 billion    Effective tax rate: -5.5%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.): $31,750
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.): $25,000
Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.): $23,500
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.): $23,125
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas): $20,986

“Getting rid of corporate tax subsidies that cause such widespread tax avoidance ought to be a key part of any deficit-reduction program,” says CTJ Director Bob McIntyre.

“As a bonus, revenue-raising corporate tax reform would make it much easier to fund the investments we need to improve education and repair our crumbling roads and bridges — things that would actually help businesses and our economy grow.”

When presented with these findings, many of the tax-dodging executives will be likely to respond with just three words:

“Release the hounds.”


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