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While Workers Get Crumbs, GOP Tax Scam Analysis Details $25 Billion 'Bonanza' for Big Oil

"...with many more billions to come."

"It is the oil and gas industry, including companies that backed the presidency of Trump and whose former executives and current boosters now populate it, that are among the tax bill's largest and most long-lasting financial beneficiaries." (Photo: Mark Dixon/Flickr/cc)

"The oil and gas industry benefitted to the tune of billions of dollars from the Trump tax cut bill... And you didn't."

"This oil company bonanza was the anticipated result of a bill well crafted for this purpose."
—Antonia Juhasz,
Pacific Standard

That's how the Center for Biological Diversity responded to a new analysis published Tuesday, which shows how the fossil fuel industry has saved $25 billion so far—"with many more billions more to come"—from the Republican tax plan signed by President Donald Trump in December.

Antonia Juhasz at Pacific Standard reviewed 2017 Securities and Exchange Commission filings by 17 American oil and gas companies, "looking at the largest companies in production, refining, and pipelines that also clearly specified the impacts of the Tax Act in their result."

Confirming reports that the new tax code has "supercharged the oil industry," she found that "it is the oil and gas industry, including companies that backed the presidency of Trump and whose former executives and current boosters now populate it, that are among the tax bill's largest and most long-lasting financial beneficiaries."

Noting that the so-called Tax Cut and Jobs Act slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to just 21 percent—a 40 percent reduction—Juhasz explains that "these immediate $25 billion in oil company benefits are primarily the result of companies that had deferred payment of taxes they owe to some point in the future. The more billions of dollars they deferred, the more savings they got from the Tax Act. This is because money that they would previously have been required to pay a tax rate of 35 percent on is now taxed at just 21 percent."

Additionally, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which reviewed filings for 11 of the companies, found that five "will actually receive federal income tax refunds this year" thanks to "newly added and pre-existing loopholes, giveaways, and other advantages" that businesses use to reduce the amount of taxes they pay.

"This oil company bonanza was the anticipated result of a bill well crafted for this purpose," Juhasz notes, and last year's one-time benefits are "only the beginning."

"In addition to keeping virtually all of the oil industry's substantial existing tax breaks, the Tax Act provides a new subsidy for how the companies deduct the costs of capital expenditures such as drilling equipment, lowering their tax burden while encouraging more capital spending, with the likely result of increased production and other operations," Juhasz writes, pointing out that it "also opened part of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development," a move that was fiercely opposed by conservationists and Democrats in Congress.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) paired Juhasz's findings with statements from Republican leaders in Congress and Trump's White House Press Secretary, who claimed that the tax bill was about helping Americans rather than appeasing deep-pocketed campaign donors.

Economic experts warned throughout last year's battle over the #GOPTaxScam, as it was often called by critics, that the proposals put forth by Republicans were always primarily designed to benefit millionaires, billionaires, and big businesses at the expense of working families.

But now—as Sanders, the Center for Biological Diversity, and others are pointing out—the gig is up.

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