Watchwoman on the Wall

PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama, right, listens as Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive officer of General Electric Co., speaks during a President?s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., Feb. 24, 2011.

THE WHITE HOUSE, March 25, 2011

The top tax bracket for U.S. corporations stands at 35 percent, one of the highest rates in the world. So how is it possible that a giant of American business, General Electric, paid nothing in federal taxes last year, even as it made billions in profit?

And should the CEO of GE, Jeffrey Immelt, be advising the president on business?

For two years, President Obama has been talking about the need for corporate tax reform, declaring that the system is too complicated and that companies pay too much.

“Simplify, eliminate loopholes, treat everybody fairly,” Obama said in February.

For those unaccustomed to the loopholes and shelters of the corporate tax code, GE’s success at avoiding taxes is nothing short of extraordinary. The company, led by Immelt, earned $14.2 billion in profits in 2010, but it paid not a penny in taxes because the bulk of those profits, some $9 billion, were offshore. In fact, GE got a $3.2 billion tax benefit.

Read the rest of the story:

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