More ammunition for the Occupy Wall Street folks -- a new study shows a good number of the nation's richest companies have paid no federal taxes over the past years, and some have even gotten money back from the government.
CBS MarketWatch reports on the study "by the left-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice, a Washington-based nonprofit research and advocacy group, and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group."
The groups examined 280 companies in the Fortune 500. They found that 30 of them either paid no taxes or actually received tax rebates in 2008, 2009 and 2010. They also determined that 78 of the companies enjoyed either of those in at least one of the years.
Those 78 companies reported a combined pre-tax income of $156 billion in the years they paid no taxes. With tax breaks they actually got back $22 billion.
The corporate tax rate is supposed to be 35%, but these 280 companies averaged 19%. The lowest tax rate was negative 58% for Pepco Holdings.
Pepco Holdings said in an emailed statement:
“PHI pays all its required taxes [and] takes seriously its responsibility to adhere to legal tax requirements and its fiduciary responsibility to its customers and shareholders to minimize costs where possible.”
General Electric disputes the survey's findings that it had a negative 45% tax rate.
“The report is inaccurate and distorted,” said Kenny Juarez, director of financial communications for General Electric. “GE paid billions of dollars in taxes in the United States over the last decade, and we expect our overall tax rate will be approximately 30% in 2011.”
Tax subsidies lowered the tax rate dramatically. The report said the 280 companies combined made $1.4 trillion in pre-tax profit over the three years. At 35% they would have paid $473 billion in taxes. They actually paid about half of that.
And that's why people are occupying Wall Street.