In a congressional hearing Thursday, Continental Resources CEO and Mitt Romney’s chief energy adviser Harold Hamm asked to preserve the oil industry’s billions in tax breaks, although his company pays little in federal taxes. The oil firm has earned more than $1.8 billion profit over five years by dominating the oil shale boom in North Dakota.
In his prepared testimony, Hamm defends tax breaks by pointing to his own company, saying, “Continental’s effective tax rate is 38%!” But according to Citizens for Tax Justice, Continental paid an average 2.2 percent tax rate, or $40 million, over five years.
Hamm claims a higher tax rate by including deferred taxes the company hasn’t paid. It’s a popular tactic, used by oil companies and the American Petroleum Institute. CTJ shows that Continental Resources has paid federal income taxes as low as 0.1 percent in the last five years:
While oil executives complain that they are “the highest taxed industry,” in reality, the two most profitable oil corporations pay less taxes than the average American. Hamm stands to financially benefit from Romney’s policies, which preserves tax breaks for oil companies and may even allow drilling in national parks.