The Sorry State of Corporate Taxes

Joanna Schroeder

Citizens for Tax Justice has released a new five-year, comprehensive study of 288 profitable Fortune 500 companies finds that 26 paid no federal corporate income tax over the five-year period; 111 paid no federal corporate income tax in at least one of the last five years, and one-third paid a U.S. tax rate less than 10 percent over the same period, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy said today. “The Sorry State of Corporate Taxes: What Fortune 500 The Sorry State of Corporate TaxesFirms Pay (or Don’t Pay) in the USA and What They Pay Abroad —(2008–2012),” found that most multinational corporations in the study paid lower U.S. taxes on their domestic profits than they paid to foreign governments on their foreign profits.

Big Oil companies were part of the this list and the report found that several oil companies paid no taxes or negative taxes in at least one of the years between 2008 and 2012: Murphy Oil, Exxon Mobil, Occidental Petroleum, Devon Energy and HollyFrontier. The report found that Exxon Mobil actually got money out of the government, taking in more than $25 billion in one of those years while actually getting $954 million out of the taxpayers for a tax rate of negative 38 percent. Overall, the report finds, the oil, gas and pipelines industry paid taxes at an average rate of 14.4 percent in the five years measured making profits of more than $223 billion and paying taxes of only $32 million. During that same time period oil, gas and pipeline companies received $45 billion in subsidies.

“The incredible extent to which Big Oil takes advantage of the U.S. taxpayers should give serious pause to those considering whether to give the industry another huge giveaway they don’t need by gutting the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Caren Benjamin, Executive Director, Americans United for Change, an organization that has called for more support of the renewable energy industry in continued support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“The ethanol industry voluntarily gave up their tax credit at the end of 2011, while Big Oil has fought tooth and nail to hold on to its billions of dollars in pointless and wasteful subsidies,” continued Benjamin. “Big Oil lobbyists claim these subsidies somehow benefit to the economy. But it’s clear they about as committed to boosting the American economy with these subsidies as Bernie Madoff was to building his clients’ retirement accounts. Bottom line: Anything they can do to suck more dollars in to their own pockets – from the government, from the taxpayers, at the pump, whatever it takes, they will do.”

Oil, Renewable Energy