Guns don't kill people, the old saw goes. People do.
By the same token, corporations don't dodge taxes. People do. The people who run corporations. And these people — America's CEOs — are reaping awesomely lavish rewards for the tax dodging they have their corporations do.
In fact, corporate tax dodging has gone so out of control that 25 major U.S. corporations last year paid their chief executives more than they paid Uncle Sam in federal income taxes.
This year's Institute for Policy Studies Executive Excess report, our 18th annual, explores the intersection between CEO pay and aggressive corporate tax dodging.
We researched the 100 U.S. corporations that shelled out the most last year in CEO compensation. At 25 of these corporate giants, we found, the bill for chief executive compensation actually ran higher than the company's entire federal corporate income tax bill.
Corporate outlays for CEO compensation — despite the lingering Great Recession — are rising. Employment levels have barely rebounded from their recessionary lows. Top executive pay levels, by contrast, have rebounded nearly all the way back from their pre-recession levels.
This contrast shows up starkly in the 2010 ratio between average worker and average CEO compensation. In 2009, we calculate, major corporate CEOs took home 263 times the pay of America's average workers. Last year, this gap leaped to 325-to-1.
Among the nation's top firms, the S&P 500, CEO pay last year averaged $10,762,304, up 27.8 percent over 2009. Average worker pay in 2010? That finished up at $33,121, up just 3.3 percent over the year before.
What are America's CEOs doing to deserve their latest bountiful rewards? We have no evidence that CEOs are fashioning, with their executive leadership, more effective and efficient enterprises. On the other hand, ample evidence suggests that CEOs and their ...