General Electric: King of the Tax Dodgers

Published on
by
CommonDreams.org

General Electric: King of the Tax Dodgers

Congressional Republicans are about to cut the Tsunami Warning System from the National Weather Service budget. But if General Electric paid their fair share of taxes, we could reverse this and billions in additional budget cuts.

GE — best known for its light bulbs, refrigerators — and lately, its nuclear reactors — is one of the country's biggest tax dodgers.

Recent filings show that in 2010, General Electric reported global profits of $14.2 billion, claiming $5.1 billion from U.S. operations.

How much did it pay in U.S. corporate taxes? Zero. Actually, less than zero. We taxpayers paid G.E. $3.2 billion.

As David Kocieniewski reports in The New York Times, G.E. "has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than most multinational companies."

According to Citizens for Tax Justice, between 2006 and 2010, General Electric reported $26.3 billion in pretax profits to its shareholders but paid no U.S. taxes. In fact, they received $4.2 billion in refunds from Uncle Sam for an effective tax rate of negative 15.8 percent over these five years.

General Electric accomplishes this feat by using is political muscle in Congress and lobbying for special tax treatment and corporate welfare. It also aggressively moves is profits to offshore tax havens including Bermuda, Singapore, and Luxembourg.

While several divisions of GE have struggled over the last decade, GE's accountants think of themselves as a profit center. The company¹s 975-member tax division includes many former Treasury and IRS officials who never a met a loophole they didn¹t love.

Why do we tolerate the behavior of companies like General Electric? These Benedict Arnold corporations reap all the benefits of doing business in the U.S. ­yet avoid their responsibilities for paying. Next time they have a fire at one of their plants, they should call the Fire Department in Bermuda.

GE will only pay its fair share when enough citizens wake up and demand that our politicians crack down on tax dodgers. No politician should be allowed to propose a budget cut or moan about austerity until they crack down on the scofflaws such as General Electric.

See also, Chuck's recent column, Corporate Tax Dodgers, Pay Up ­and his Talking Points on Corporate Tax Dodging.

Chuck Collins

Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good (www.inequality.org), and the author of the new book, 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do about It. Chuck is also a co-founder of Wealth for the Common Good, a network of business leaders, high-income households and partners working together to promote shared prosperity and fair taxation.He is co-author of The Moral Measure of the Economy and with Bill Gates Sr. of Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes

More in: