GE’s 2010 Tax Bill? A $3.2 Billion Credit

General ElectricIt’s absolutely scandalous that the United States’ largest companies pay almost no tax; the New York Times devotes a major story to showing how one of the best tax-dodging corporations, General Electric, does it:

General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm. Indeed, the company’s slogan “Imagination at Work” fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.

While General Electric is one of the most skilled at reducing its tax burden, many other companies have become better at this as well. Although the top corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world, companies have been increasingly using a maze of shelters, tax credits and subsidies to pay far less.

In a regulatory filing just a week before the Japanese disaster put a spotlight on the company’s nuclear reactor business, G.E. reported that its tax burden was 7.4 percent of its American profits, about a third of the average reported by other American multinationals. Even those figures are overstated, because they include taxes that will be paid only if the company brings its overseas profits back to the United States. With those profits still offshore, G.E. is effectively getting money back.

Such strategies, as well as changes in tax laws that encouraged some businesses and professionals to file as individuals, have pushed down the corporate share of the nation’s tax receipts — from 30 percent of all federal revenue in the mid-1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009…

[continues in the New York Times]

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  • 5by5

    90% of the Fortune 500 pay no tax.

    Remember that when you’re paying your tax bill next month.

    And also remember that the Republicans want to reduce your rights and benefits so they can give even more corporate welfare to these giant oligarchical monopolies.

    • Andrew

      But the rich create Jobs for the rest of us! Mind-numbing, soul-crushing, back-breaking Jobs!

      • Haystack

        In India.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      That’s clearly true about the Republicans–up to a point.

      But let’s not forget Obama’s own fumbling kow-towing to the corporate idol. He totally betrayed Sanders et al. in order to push through the estate tax cuts while the Dems still had majorities in BOTH houses.

      There is absolutely zero chance of mounting any type of effective opposition to the total grab-bag approach to plutocracy until the so-called left stop tolerating turncoats and incompetence. If charity begins at home, so does every aspect of morality.

    • American Voter

      Yes, and Democrats want to tax us to death. GE paid no taxes because it carried-forward losses from the financial crisis. It lost $15 billion as a result of the crisis. If you read their 2010 financials, GE lost $310 million in the United States. Why should they pay taxes on losses?

    • Toni

      GE is a green company, ask Obama.  Imelt has been on Obama’s economic advisory board.  Now he’s on Obama’s job creation advisory board.  Imelt is creating green stuff and reaping all the benefits of our tax dollars to create our green society. 

  • 5by5

    90% of the Fortune 500 pay no tax.

    Remember that when you’re paying your tax bill next month.

    And also remember that the Republicans want to reduce your rights and benefits so they can give even more corporate welfare to these giant oligarchical monopolies.

  • Andrew

    But the rich create Jobs for the rest of us! Mind-numbing, soul-crushing, back-breaking Jobs!

  • http://www.zazzle.com/fantoccini Gort

    GE execs also continue the annual tradition of drinking Edison’s liquefied corpse juice while electrocuting an elephant and setting Telsa afire in effigy.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/fantoccini Gort

    GE execs also continue the annual tradition of drinking Edison’s liquefied corpse juice while electrocuting an elephant and setting Telsa afire in effigy.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EAPUJHWIYQJWKN7HUCSCVHKVTQ David Meadows

    Does this have anything to do with Obama having picked former CEO of GE Jeffrey Immelt head of jobs and competitiveness council? Yet his company loves shipping jobs over seas and laying people off.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EAPUJHWIYQJWKN7HUCSCVHKVTQ David Meadows

    Does this have anything to do with Obama having picked former CEO of GE Jeffrey Immelt head of jobs and competitiveness council? Yet his company loves shipping jobs over seas and laying people off.

  • Anonymous

    That’s clearly true about the Republicans–up to a point.

    But let’s not forget Obama’s own fumbling kow-towing to the corporate idol. He totally betrayed Sanders et al. in order to push through the estate tax cuts while the Dems still had majorities in BOTH houses.

    There is absolutely zero chance of mounting any type of effective opposition to the total grab-bag approach to plutocracy until the so-called left stop tolerating turncoats and incompetence. If charity begins at home, so does every aspect of morality.

  • Haystack

    In India.

  • American Voter

    Yes, and Democrats want to tax us to death. GE paid no taxes because it carried-forward losses from the financial crisis. It lost $15 billion as a result of the crisis. If you read their 2010 financials, GE lost $310 million in the United States. Why should they pay taxes on losses?

  • Toni

    GE is a green company, ask Obama.  Imelt has been on Obama’s economic advisory board.  Now he’s on Obama’s job creation advisory board.  Imelt is creating green stuff and reaping all the benefits of our tax dollars to create our green society. 

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