Some ugly data from Citizens for Tax Justice on corporate taxes paid in America. A chart from the report (link-PDF).
From 2008 through 2010, these 12 companies reported $171 billion in pretax U.S. profits. But as a group, their federal income taxes were negative: –$2.5 billion.
All but two of the dozen companies enjoyed at least one no-tax year over the 2008-10 period, despite reporting substantial pretax U.S. profits in those no-tax years.
Eight of the twelve companies reported net tax benefits over the full three-year period.
It’s old news that America’s biggest corporations pay little in taxes. It’s been well documented that GE is a functional tax deadbeat. I don’t think these big companies are cheating on their taxes. It’s the tax code that those same big companies (and their lobbyists) have written over the years.
IMHO two things are needed:
1) There has to be a minimum tax on current year corporate profits. I don’t give a damn what paper losses these companies can engineer from prior years. If they are in the green in a calendar year they can reduce their tax obligation with deductions, but not below a minimum rate. I would suggest that the minimum be set at 10%.
Note: I think there is not a snowballs chance in hell that a minimum current year corporate tax could get passed. The opposition would be too great. My fallback position is that there is never a possibility that a US company benefits from a negative tax rate. If a company has a loss carry forward let them carry the cost, not the country.
2) President Obama has to dump Jeff Immelt (GE CEO) as his economic adviser. This fat cat of all fat cats is sitting on the President’s right hand side. Jeff’s influence and power has been elevated as a result.
I see it differently. I see GE/Immelt as a predators. They’re not friends of this country. They’re the enemy.