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Paul Buchheit
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Monday 18 March 2013
The real madness is that human beings are suffering because of the tax games corporations play.

March Madness: The Fifth Straight Year of Extreme Corporate Tax Avoidance

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The brackets are set for the big dance—the dance around tax responsibility. Most of the teams are in the bottom bracket. In this league, the lowest score wins.

Outside the stadium our nation's kids and seniors and low-income mothers may be dealing with food and housing cuts, but on the corporate playing floor new low-tax records are being set again this year. Just as this is a golden age for sports, this is also, as noted by the New York Times, "a golden age for corporate profits."

Corporations have simply stopped paying their taxes, perhaps using the 2008 recession as an excuse to plead hardship, but then never restoring their tax obligations when business got better. The facts are indisputable. For over 20 years, from 1987 to 2008, corporations paid an average of 22.5 percent in federal taxes. Since the recession, this has dropped to 10 percent—even though their profits have doubled in less than ten years.

Pay Up Now just completed a compilation of corporate tax payments over the past five years, using SEC data as reported by the companies themselves. The firms chosen are top-earners who have filed 10-K reports through 2012. Their U.S. Tax figures represent the five-year total of "current" payments.

The 64 corporate teams paid just over 8 percent in taxes over the five-year period.

The Slink Sixteen

General Electric: The worst tax record over five years, with $81 billion in profits and a $3 billion refund.

Boeing: In addition to receiving a refund despite $21.5 billion in profits, the company ranked high in job cuttingunderfunded pensions, and contractor misconduct.

Exxon Mobil: Made by far the largest profits in the group, but paid less than 1 percent in U.S. taxes, and yet received oil subsidies along with their tax breaks. Unabashedly reports a 2012 "theoretical tax" of over $27 billion, almost 90 percent of its total income tax expense. The company was also near the top in contractor misconduct.

Verizon: Second worst tax record, with a refund despite $48 billion in profits.

Kraft Foods: Received a refund from the public despite $13.5 billion in profits. Also a leading job-cutter.

Citigroup: One of the five big banks who are estimated to get a bailout/refund from the American public amounting to three cents from every tax dollar.

Dow Chemical: Received a refund despite almost $10 billion in profits.

IBM: Paid less than 3 percent in taxes while ranking as one of the leading job cutters, and near the top in contractor misconduct.

Chevron: In addition to a meager 4.3 percent tax rate and a share of oil subsidies, the company has been the main beneficiary of tax-exempt government bonds.

FedEx: The company paid less than 5 percent in federal taxes while relying on the publicly-funded Post Office to deliver thirty percent of its ground packages.

Honeywell: Less than 6 percent in taxes, a leading job cutter, near the top in instances of contractor misconduct, and run by the "Fix the Debt" CEO with the largest pension fund.

AT&T: An 8 percent tax rate, a leader in job cuts and underfunded pensions, and in the top 20 of contractor misconduct instances.

Merck: Notable for an 8.4 percent tax rate, job cutsoffshore holdings, and the top U.S. spot on the contractor misconduct dollar list.

Apple: Where to begin? Avoiding federal taxes, avoiding state taxeshiding overseas earnings, engaging in intellectual propertyschemes, using the "Double Irish" to transfer profits from Europe to Bermuda, and underpaying its store workers despite conducting most of its product and research development in the U.S.

Pfizer: One of the leaders in stockpiling untaxed profits overseas, and right behind Merck in contractor misconduct dollars.

Google: A master at the "Double Irish" revenue shift to Bermuda tax havens, while using tax loopholes to bring a lot of the money back to the U.S. without paying taxes on it. Recognized as one of the world's biggest tax avoiders.

Microsoft: Named as one of the biggest offshore hoarders while using tax strategies to bring much of their untaxed money back to the U.S., where it also avoids state taxes.

The Fouling Four

GE, Boeing, Exxon, and Apple. Merck almost crashed the party, but the competition was too stiff.

The Winner?

No one wins this game. In a financial sense they do, but the gains are outweighed by the greed and irresponsibility of tax avoidance.

All these companies, after using our infrastructure, technology, research facilities, higher education and national defense to build incomparably successful businesses, are now doing everything in their power to avoid paying anything back. Instead they are using a carefully manipulated set of "legal" business writeoffs and exemptions and loopholes to cut their tax bills to almost nothing. And all the while they rant about the unfairness of the U.S. tax code.

The real madness is that human beings are suffering because of the tax games corporations play.

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ABOUT Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher with formal training in language development and cognitive science. He is the founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,, and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

The problem with the USA and

The problem with the USA and the world is it's filled with stupid people.
There is a technology 6 thousand years old that will fix this problem it is called

study everything on these sites - watch all the videos
cough up the money to learn TM properly & sit twice a day in silence for 20 minutes
nature will come to save us
Eat only organic food. Preferably food you have grown yourself.
If you live in the USA travel to Fairfield Iowa - see their plans
for the future of our dear world ... the light glows bright there.
Good luck !

March Madness:The Fifth

March Madness:The Fifth Straight Year of Extreme Corporate Tax Avoidance was interesting until I realized that if a corporation got a refund they must have paid taxes. Therefore, I need to know if the refund was a full refund or a partial refund to make a clear decession regarding the thesis of the article. I need to know what the actual net taxes were which were paid by these corporations and how does that compairs to some reasonable base year.

Please, please, PLEASE, get

Please, please, PLEASE, get this information to the guy who did the infographics on wealth inequality that went viral and let him work his magic on representing this and getting it out. He's already on everyone's radar. It may be the best way to get broad attention to this!! The YouTube author's name is Politizane.

It would seem to prove that

It would seem to prove that our Corporate Overloards and Organized Crime are one and the same.

we all know now that congress

we all know now that congress is bought and paid for. the good of the american people matters little now in there eyes and only big donations to keep there jobs gets there attention. Bonner and Ryan admitted that the debt isn't that big of deal and they want to crush any program that helps the poor or people that have social security coming. If these company's paid what is owed, and we didn't have all these bought and paid for representatives to pass laws that let them do it legally, we wouldn't be in this mess. It is past time to oust all of this self serving representatives that get promised big paying jobs after they pass legislation that help(corporate backers) there bottom lines. This should be a treason offense against the citizens of the United States. Guess i am i dream land where fair play and honesty rule.

"Off with their heads!"

"Off with their heads!"

We all have to pay taxes so

We all have to pay taxes so corporations should pay their fair share. Paying taxes would not be so bad if taxpayers could decide where their taxes should go by electronic consensus. We now give our tax money to politicians that give it to our oppressive oligarchy in one form or another.

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