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U.S. Senator’s Top 10 List of Corporate Tax Avoiders

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Four days after the appearance of a New York Times news story about how General Electric did not pay taxes, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) compiled a list of the top 10 corporations that avoid paying or pay almost nothing in federal income taxes.

Sanders’ press release reads as follows:

“1) Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings.

2) Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion.

3) Over the past five years, while General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States, it received a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS.

4) Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.

5) Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year.

6) Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year, received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction.

7) Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department.

8) Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury.

9) ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2007 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction.

10) Over the past five years, Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent.”

The Vermont senator called for ending tax breaks for oil companies and closing tax loopholes for corporations.

“We have a deficit problem. It has to be addressed,” Sanders said, “but it cannot be addressed on the backs of the sick, the elderly, the poor, young people, the most vulnerable in this country. The wealthiest people and the largest corporations in this country have got to contribute. We’ve got to talk about shared sacrifice.”

Meanwhile, “60 Minutes” aired on March 27 a story about corporate tax havens.

“Our government is in knots over ways to lower the federal budget deficit. Well, what if we told you we found a pot of money – over $60 billion a year – that could be used to help out?” asked correspondent Leslie Stahl.

She said, “That bundle is tax money not coming in to the IRS from American corporations. One major way they avoid paying the tax man is by parking their profits overseas.”

The Daily Beast, an opinion and news website that merged with Newsweek magazine in November 2010, identified 15 corporate tax dodgers, including Google, Oracle, Pfizer and Microsoft.

“Between 2001 and 2003, the cigarette maker [Altria (Philip Morris)] took advantage of $3.3 billion in tax breaks, which effectively cut its taxes by one-third,” reported Daily Beast.

Time Warner, the entertainment conglomerate, also made the list. “Between 2001 and 2003, Time Warner claimed tax breaks that cut its taxes by 121 percent – and allowed the company to pay nothing at all in taxes for two years,” reported the website.

Another tax dodging media corporation was News Corp, which owns Fox News. News Corp was identified in 2008 with one of “the highest number” of tax haven subsidiaries – 150.

Editor’s note: Click here to learn more about EthicsDaily.com’s documentary on faith and taxes, “Sacred Texts, Social Duty.”