Friday, March 25, 2011

General Electric pays no taxes

You might want to sit down for this one. The Times is reporting that General Electric pays zero corporate taxes in the U.S.:

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.

Yes, quite extraordinary -- and, needless to say, deeply troubling.

And yet Corporate American continues to complain about how horribly it's being treated, how difficult it is to make a buck, how anti-business Obama is?

I'm not saying GE does nothing for America. It employs a lot of people, obviously, and it contributes a great deal to society, both for better (e.g., medical equipment) and for worse (e.g., weapons). And, yes, it has its not insubstantial philanthropic activities as well.

But getting away with paying essentially no corporate taxes whatsoever -- and being allowed to do so, given the "maze of [legal] shelters, tax credits and subsidies" it another other companies exploit for the sake of their own bottom lines at the expense of the public good -- is pretty despicable, not least at a time when so many people are struggling just to make ends meet, just to pay the bills and put food on the table.

Can you blame GE? Well, business is business, and business, at least in America, where it is not expected to have much of a social conscience, is about the bottom line, about making as much profit as possible. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking otherwise, into thinking that what's good for business is good for America. It isn't, at least not always, or even mostly.

But this is certainly a sign of what's wrong with Corporate America and with the system that allows it to rape and pillage -- figuratively speaking, to an extent -- without any regard for the consequences, to benefit from a society that allows it to profit with reckless abandon without having to pay for anything in return.

Think about that as you're doing your taxes and as you feel the merciless taxman breathing down your neck. If you were GE, you'd be in the clear, with your money safely stashed away "offshore."

But you're not. You are who you are, and you're screwed.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share


  • Time to stand up America -- this must stop!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:59 AM  

  • As tall as we might stand, GE and Exxon and Halliburton and the rest stand taller, speak louder and carry a much bigger stick.

    It's been a long time since 'one man - one vote' came near to describing America. It's more like one corporation, as many votes as their tax breaks can pay for.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 11:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home