Co-authored by Matt Leonard and Becky Tarbotton – Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network
Billionaire real estate investor and legendary tax evader Leona Helmsley famously said: “Only the little people pay taxes.” It turns out Helmsley was all too right.
Last month’s discovery that GE paid zero in taxes in 2010 has exploded across the news. But GE is not alone. Rainforest Action Network reviewed the top four banks, oil and coal companies in the country, and found that all of them are gaming the system. In fact, Bank of America, Citi, Massey Energy and Chevron have also all paid zero in federal income taxes this year or in year’s past.
We reviewed 12 of the dirtiest corporate tax dodgers: Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Chevron, BP, Shell, Exxon, Massey Energy, Alpha Natural Resources, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal. These 12 banks, oil and coal companies are responsible for foreclosing on millions of people’s homes and polluting our air, water and climate. At the same time, we found that they pay next to nothing into a tax system that provides the very services that protect the homeless, the sick and our environment.
As the graphic below shows, banks, oil and coal companies are making billions in profits annually and paying much less than their fair share in taxes. In fact, the top four oil companies in the country made $1.26 trillion in gross revenues and paid a shocking 2.04% average tax rate.
If just the top banks, oil and coal companies actually paid the IRS corporate tax rate of 35%, they would be giving back $62 billion this tax season. That is almost double the current $38 billion proposed federal budget cuts.
To add insult to injury, while these multi-billion dollar industries are raking in the profits and evading their taxes they were also paying millions in CEO compensation and lobby dollars. These corporations are happy to pay large sums to manipulate our democracy but aren’t so interested in paying to support that democracy.
So, let’s get one thing straight: America is not broke, and these dirty corporations don’t need any more handouts, bailouts, or subsidies. We don’t have a money problem, we have a priorities problem. We’re slashing billions from our budget, much of which will come out of social services and environmental protections, while allowing corporate giants to slip ever-increasing profits into offshore accounts.
By reversing years of tax giveaways to the largest corporations, Congress could raise trillions in revenue not only covering our budget deficit but also enhancing education, health and environmental programs that safeguard our families and our future.
Pissed off? You should be. It’s time corporate tax dodgers pay their fair share. You can get involved with RAN’s campaigns to hold Wall Street, King Coal and Big Oil accountable. And US Uncut is leading actions on Tax Day to call out corporate tax dodgers – get involved!