Are big corporations paying their fair share?

By: Marc Cuniberti
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One of the most hotly debated issues is the subject of corporate income taxes and subsequent outsourcing to avoid them.
One side believes corporations should pay their fair share of taxes and strive to keep jobs here in the U.S. The other claims outsourcing is the right of private enterprise in order to maximize shareholder profits.
Both views have their merits and a case could be made for either side on any given day.
Take General Electric for example. Founded in America in 1878, this now multinational corporation operates in more than 100 countries around the world, offering a multitude of products and services.
It filed more than 7,000 income tax returns and made over $10.8 billion from overseas operations with gross revenues totaling $150 billion worldwide. Employing literally tens of thousand of workers here in the U.S. and overseas, this entity is the epitome of largess in sheer size and scope.
So how much did General Electric pay her home country in taxes in 2010? In a New York Times article entitled “At G.E. on Tax Day, Billions of Reasons to Smile” the world learned that thanks to its deductions and adjustments, GE paid absolutely no taxes in 2010. In fact, it received a tax benefit of more than $3.2 billion. In other words, you could argue it made money on the deal.
And what’s GE’s view of the world?
Said Anne Eisele, a spokeswoman for GE: “G.E. is committed to acting with integrity in relation to our tax obligations.”
Does GE outsource some of its manufacturing? Does the sun rise at dawn?
With more then half of GE’s revenues now coming from overseas, you could say it employs a few less Americans since the day it turned on its first light bulb. As of last year in fact, it shuttered its last U.S. light plant and now makes all its bulbs overseas.
Who is in control of this behemoth and guides these decisions?
His name is Jeffery Immelt and he’s the CEO of GE. He took home $25.8 million in total compensation in 2012 — a 20 percent jump from the year before and he obviously has a lot to say about GE’s outsourcing and corporate tax liabilities. But don’t think his influence ends at the doorsteps of GE headquarters.
In January 2011, he was also appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
You can’t make this stuff up.
This column expresses the
opinions of Marc Cuniberti. Cuniberti hosts “Money Matters” on KVMR FM 89.5 and 105.1 FM on Thursdays at noon and is
syndicated on more than 30 radio stations throughout the U.S. He has been featured on NBC and ABC television and
on a host of made-for-TV
documentaries for his economic insights. His website is www.