Between 2008 and 2011, 26 major corporations were able to pay no federal corporate income tax, despite making a combined $205 billion in profits. According to a new report from Citizens for Tax Justice, Facebook joined that illustrious club last year, receiving $429 million in tax rebates despite making more than $1 billion in profits:
Earlier this month, the Facebook Inc. released its first “10-K” annual financial report since going public last year. Hidden in the report’s footnotes is an amazing admission: despite $1.1 billion in U.S. profits in 2012, Facebook did not pay even a dime in federal and state income taxes.
Instead, Facebook says it will receive net tax refunds totaling $429 million.
Facebook’s income tax refunds stem from the company’s use of a single tax break, the tax deductibility of executive stock options. That tax break reduced Facebook’s federal and state income taxes by $1,033 million in 2012, including refunds of earlier years’ taxes of $451 million
Facebook will be able to carry further tax rebates forward, according to CTJ, for a total of $3 billion in tax deductions.
“When profitable corporations can use the stock option tax deduction to pay zero corporate income taxes for years on end, average taxpayers are forced to pick up the tax burden,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) when this issue arose as Facebook was preparing its initial public offering last year. This tax preference for corporations costs the U.S. about $2 billion in revenue per year.