As ThinkProgress has been reporting, while Main Street Americans are having their services gutted and public investment is being slashed, some of the country's most profitable corporations are getting away with paying little to nothing in taxes.
A new report by Public Campaign examines how these major corporations have influenced Congress to craft a tax code that lets them get away with making so much money and paying so little taxes in return. In its report, “The Artful Dodgers,” Public Campaign juxtaposes the limited tax liability of dozen major corporations with the companies' campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures, which amount to more than a billion dollars over the last decade:
EXXON MOBIL: The oil giant that was the world's most profitable corporation in 2008 has spent $5.7 million in campaign contributions over the last ten years and $138 million in lobbying expenditures. Its federal corporate income tax liabilities for 2009? Absolutely nothing. Not only did it pay nothing, but it also received a tax rebate the same year of $156 million.
CHEVRON: Chevron spent $4.4 million in campaign contributions and $91 million in lobbying expenditures over the last decade. It received a tax refund of $19 million in 2009 while making $10 billion in profits and $324 million in government contracts in 2008.
CONOCOPHILLIPS: The Texas-based gasoline giant spent $2.5 million in campaign contributions and $63 million in lobbying expenditures over the last decade. It received “$451 million through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction,” a special tax break, between 2007 and 2009, despite $16 billion in profits over the same period of time.
VALERO ENERGY: Valero spent $4.1 million in campaign contributions and $4.8 million in lobbying expenditures from 2001 to 2010. It received a $157 million tax rebate in 2009 despite $68 billion in sales during the same year. It received “$134 million through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction” over the last three years.
BANK OF AMERICA: Bank of America employees contributed $11 million to federal political campaigns from 2001 to 2010 and spent $24 million lobbying over the same period of time. It made $4.4 billion in profits in 2010 while receiving a tax refund of $1.9 billion.
CITIGROUP: Citigroup employees contributed $15 million to federal political campaigns from 2001 to 2010 and spent $62 million lobbying over the same period of time. It made $4 billion in profits in 2010 while paying absolutely nothing in federal corporate income taxes. It also received a $1.9 billion tax refund.
GOLDMAN SACHS: The mega-bank Goldman Sachs, which is often called “Government Sachs” in insider circles because of its clout over Washington, spent $22 million in campaign contributions and $21 million in lobbying over the last decade. It paid an ultra-low tax rate of 1.1 percent in 2008, while also receiving $800 billion in governmentloans to help weather the financial crisis.
BOEING: The aviation and defense contractor giant gave $10 million in contributions and $115 million in lobbying expenditures over the last decade. It paid a grand total of nothing in federal corporate income taxes in 2010 and received a $124 million tax refund.
FEDEX: FedEx spent $8.7 million in campaign contributions and $71 million in lobbying expenditures from 2001 to 2010. It paid a .0005 percent effective tax rate recently, actually spending 42 times as much on lobbying Congress as it did paying taxes. To do this it utilizes 21 tax havens.
CARNIVAL: The cruise line paid $1.7 million in campaign contributions and $1.6 million in lobbying over the past ten years. Despite the relatively low amount of money it spent influencing Washington, it has gotten away with a super-low tax rate. Over the past five years, its federal corporate income tax rate has been an effective 1.1 percent.
VERIZON: Verizon spent $12 million in campaign contributions and $131 million in lobbying expenditures over the past decade. It paid absolutely nothing in federal corporate income taxes over the past two years and $488 million in government contracts in 2008; in 2010, it made $12 billion in profits.
GENERAL ELECTRIC: General Electric spent $13 million in campaign contributions and $205 million in lobbying expenditures over the last decade while netting a tax refund of $4.1 billion over the past five years. It made $26 billion in profits over the same time period.
The amount of money that taxpayers are losing from the tax dodging by these major corporations is enormous. For example, if five of the nation’s biggest banks paid their taxes at the full rate, we could re-hire every single one of the 132,000 teachers laid off during the recession — twice.
We need your help to propel Truthout into the new year
As we look toward the new year, we’re well aware of the obstacles that lie in the path to justice. But here at Truthout, we are encouraged and emboldened by the courage of people worldwide working to move us all forward — people like you.
If you haven’t yet made your end-of-year donation to support our work, this is the perfect moment to do so: Our year-end fundraising drive is happening now, and we must raise $150,000 by the end of December.
Will you stand up for truly independent, honest journalism by making a contribution in the amount that’s right for you? It only takes a few seconds to donate by card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, or Venmo — we even accept donations of cryptocurrency and stock! Just click the red button below.