Occupy protesters chanting “we pay taxes and you should too” interrupted General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt today during a speech in Detroit before the SAE World Congress. Other protesters in the hall chanted “we are the 99 percent” before being escorted off the premises by police.
However, that doesn’t jive with what Citizens for Tax Justice found in a recent report. CTJ calculated that GE paid an 11.3 percent tax rate in 2011, which is actually a huge increase over previous years. In 2010, for instance, GE paid -76.6 percent. In 2009, it was -52.9 percent. So in each of those years, the government subsidized the hugely profitable mega-corporation:
GE’s low taxes stem mainly from its finance arm, GE Capital, which makes big profits, but generates huge tax “losses” that reduce GE’s taxable income from its other operations. Over the past decade, GE has paid virtually nothing in federal income taxes, paying a paltry 2.3% tax rate on its $83 billion in pretax U.S. profits.
26 major corporations, GE included, had no federal income tax liability for the period between 2008 and 2011 (thought they might have owed something in an individual year), while they made billions in profits. Occupy protesters plan to protest GE’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Detroit tomorrow.