From the Blaze we read: General Electric, the multi-national company that reaped $14.2 billion in profits last year. Though G.E. is the largest corporation in the U.S., it did not have to pay a dime in U.S. taxes, according to the New York Times. In fact, the company claimed $3.2 billion in tax benefits.
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.
According to the Times, “one of the most striking advantages of General Electric is its ability to lobby for, win and take advantage of tax breaks.”
These tax breaks are incredibly important to G.E.–so important that G.E.’s head tax man got down on his knees and begged Rep. Charles Rangel to let a particularly lucrative one extend past its expiration date in 2008:
The head of its tax team, Mr. Samuels, met with Representative Charles B. Rangel, then chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which would decide the fate of the tax break. As he sat with the committee’s staff members outside Mr. Rangel’s office, Mr. Samuels dropped to his knee and pretended to beg for the provision to be extended — a flourish made in jest, he said through a spokeswoman.
In an interesting sub-section of the article, the Times claims that G.E.‘s tax strategy flies in the face of Ronald Reagan’s legacy:
In the mid-1980s, President Ronald Reagan overhauled the tax system after learning that G.E. — a company for which he had once worked as a commercial pitchman — was among dozens of corporations that had used accounting gamesmanship to avoid paying any taxes.
“I didn’t realize things had gotten that far out of line,” Mr. Reagan told the Treasury secretary, Donald T. Regan, according to Mr. Regan’s 1988 memoir. The president supported a change that closed loopholes and required G.E. to pay a far higher effective rate, up to 32.5 percent.
That pendulum began to swing back in the late 1990s. G.E. and other financial services firms won a change in tax law that would allow multinationals to avoid taxes on some kinds of banking and insurance income. The change meant that if G.E. financed the sale of a jet engine or generator in Ireland, for example, the company would no longer have to pay American tax on the interest income as long as the profits remained offshore.
President Obama recently tapped G.E. CEO Jeffrey Immelt as his liaison to the business world. Immelt also serves as the chair of the President’ Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The story is that Immelt and Obama may discuss reforming the corporate tax code–not that Immelt has any incentive to!
Sponsored Link: Pulled from TV! A major TV network and cable provider pulled the plug on a new ad. Is this subject matter too controversial… or should it be seen by every American? Judge for yourself here…
Half of all Americans don’t pay federal taxes on their income….. Shouldn’t Unions Also Protest Against Them?
THINK ABOUT IT
- “Guess which company made over $5M profit in US and paid no taxes, GE.” and related posts (tidefans.com)
- NYT: How G.E. made $5.1B in the U.S. tax-free (msnbc.msn.com)
- “Eliminate Corporate Taxes: They Cause Corruption and Are Uncollectable Anyway” and related posts (mwilliams.info)
- Corporate Taxes (aleksandreia.wordpress.com)
- You: But Nobody Pays That: G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether (nytimes.com)
- Obama’s favorite CEO gets GE out from paying any US taxes (hotair.com)
- G.E. Avoids Paying Income Tax (stiel.wordpress.com)
- For GE, tax day adds more profit (bendbulletin.com)
- GE Pays Zero Taxes: Hate the Game, Not the Player (outsidethebeltway.com)