OTHER VOICES

GE operates tax-free

Posted April 12, 2011, at 9:05 p.m.

Outrage and envy still ripple from a report in The New York Times that General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, paid no U.S. corporate taxes in 2010.

Zero. Zip. Nada. Indeed, the company, with $14.2 billion in worldwide profits, claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion from Uncle Sam.

GE did not break the law, but the bill it successfully avoided was picked up by the rest of us, or put on the national credit card.

The top U.S. corporate rate is 35 percent, but virtually no one pays that. GE’s tax rate is about a third of what other companies pay, and that the company is vulnerable to pay any taxes is hypothetical. GE would have to return profits to these shores from places it set up to avoid taxes.

Policymakers in Washington, D.C., need to reassess rates to bring them into line with the financial realities of the nation and basic equity.

GE has a team of 975 gilded tax avoidance professionals in a department working to ensure that the rest of America picks up its tab. Oh, and that default jobs creation rationale? The Times report also pointed out that since 2002, GE has eliminated a fifth of its work force in the U.S.

U.S. corporate rates are chasing profits offshore, and the only jobs created are for tax lawyers. Set and collect realistic rates.

The Seattle Times (April 3)

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