25 Companies That Spent More On Lobbyists Than Taxes
As millions of Americans finalize their tax returns today and hit the submit button or wait in long lines at the post office, we thought we’d take a look at a select group that’s not paying taxes and how they might be getting such a good deal.
Twenty-five profitable Fortune 500 companies, some with a history of tax dodging, spent more on lobbying than they paid in federal taxes between 2008 and 2012, according to Public Campaign analysis of data from Citizens for Tax Justice and the Center for Responsive Politics. Over the past five years, these 25 corporations generated nearly $170 billion in combined profits and received $8.7 billion in tax rebates while paying their lobbyists over half a billion ($543 million), an average of nearly $300,000 a day.
Based on newly released data by Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), these 25 companies actually received tax refunds overall those five years, so most individual American families and small businesses have bigger tax bills than these corporate giants. Unfortunately, most American families and businesses do not have the lobbying operation and access these 25 companies enjoy.
So, who’s on the list?
- General Electric topped the list for tax rebates with a $3.1 billion return despite $27.5 billion in U.S. profits. The $129.7 million GE spent on lobbying overall included specific lobbying on the corporate tax loopholes most helpful to GE, particularly the active financing exception.
- PG&E, the utility company with a near monopoly in parts of California, made over a billion in profit in 2012 and still received a $74 million refund that year. Like other energy companies in this group, PG&E benefitted in particular from accelerated depreciation.
- Boeing recently received the largest state tax subsidy in history: $8.7 billion from Washington state. Lobbyists for Boeing in Washington state include two revolving door experts. Long-time lobbyist Timothy Keating has worked on the Hill and in the White House. Immediately before lobbying for Boeing Jennifer Lowe was Senator Norm Coleman's chief of staff.
To be clear, these companies didn’t spend all their lobbying fees on tax issues, but that money—on top of millions in campaign cash their lobbyists, PACs, and executives donate to politicians—give them extra access to and influence on politicians who are debating policies like tax reform that directly effect them.
(With Research Analyst David Duhalde-Wine)