Two non profits, the Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, are circulating a new study named Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers
(pdf) which names and shames corporations that are dodging taxes. The study examines financial reports from 280 profitable from the Fortune 500 between 2008 thorugh 2010. Of those companies, 78 paid no federal income tax in at least one of the last three years and 30 companies paid no taxes during the entire period.
Many of the companies actually wound up getting money back from the government using an endless series of loopholes. Wells Fargo tops the list overall in terms of government subsidies, getting nearly $18 billion in tax breaks over the last three years. AT&T and Verizon are in second and third place, respectively.
The report is particularly tough on Verizon, noting the company hasn't paid a cent in taxes in the last three years. As you might imagine, Verizon disagrees with the study results, and is sending this statement out to the press:
Verizon paid out $1.79 billion in taxes over 2008-2010, and reported earnings of $5.25 billion over this same period. In addition, Verizon has annually invested $16.5 billion in technology infrastructure. This investment has created and sustained jobs, so U.S. economic development policy allows for the payment of some taxes to be deferred. The CTJ treats deferred taxes as non-existent, it does not account for the $1.79 billion in taxes Verizon paid out over the past three years despite deferrals, and it incorrectly calculates earnings for Verizon to include income belonging to Vodafone, Verizon's partner in Verizon Wireless.
Verizon's arguing that deferred taxes (which can in some cases be perpetually deferred) still count as taxes paid. Of course Verizon also gets ample subsidies as well, which also offset any taxes paid -- and are about to get billions more
in subsidies courtesy of new "reform" of the Universal Service Fund. There is really no debate that Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have lobbied their way to immense and borderline absurd subsidy and tax break benefits on the state and federal levels -- often for doing absolutely nothing
Verizon has been using Reverse Morris Trusts to offload unwanted networks to small telcos with some disastrous effects
. While the deals go poorly for acquiring companies, Verizon has offloaded mountains of debt and obtained huge tax breaks using the sophisticated financial maneuver. On the state level Verizon gets oodles of subsidies and tax breaks as well. For example, the company for generations didn't pay property tax in Massachusetts until a 1915 law, designed to help speed up phone service deployment, was recently shelved. Of course when the state stated they'd remove the law, Verizon repeatedly threatened to hold back infrastructure upgrades
(Boston currently still doesn't have FiOS).