General Electric Doesn’t Pay Taxes; Why Should You?

Monday, March 28, 2011
With unemployment still high and governments at all levels slashing services, it’s shocking to realize that the nation’s largest corporation, General Electric, paid zero taxes in the United States last year.
GE earned $5.1 billion in profits in America in 2010, in addition to another $9.1 billion it made overseas. But it paid nothing to the IRS. Instead, it enjoyed tax breaks totaling $3.2 billion.
One might think that someone in the White House would be up in arms about this apparent injustice. But instead, the opposite is true. President Barack Obama chose GE’s chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, to be the chairman of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness,
GE has managed to avoid paying into the U.S. Treasury by building one of the best tax departments in the corporate world…one with 975 employees. The company’s tax experts include former Department of the Treasury, IRS and congressional officials who know the tax code as well as anyone and how to beat the system. GE has also spent an average of $20 million a year on lobbying over the past decade.
“In a rational system, a corporation’s tax department would be there to make sure a company complied with the law,” Len Burman, a former Treasury official now with the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, told The New York Times. “But in our system, there are corporations that view their tax departments as a profit center, and the effects on public policy can be negative.”
Half of GE’s revenues come from the production of industrial, commercial and medical machinery and equipment. Providing loans accounts for another 30%. Put on the defensive, GE issued a statement saying that its loan division, GE Capital, had incurred significant losses during the financial crisis.
When President Obama introduced Jeffrey Immelt as the chairman of his jobs council, he said of Immelt, “He understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy.” Apparently this includes corporations avoiding paying taxes. In addition, in 2009 and 2010, GE closed 28 manufacturing plants in the United States and it now employs more people overseas than it does in the U.S.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether (by David Kocieniewski, New York Times)
Corporations Have Easy Time Beating Tax Code (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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