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Meet 5 Greedy Big Businesses That Rip Off Taxpayers

Did you pay your taxes? Much of the corporate world tap-danced right around their obligations.

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The April 15 tax deadline is just around the corner, and while you’re poring over receipts, let us draw your attention to a tale of two Pauls. Right now, Senator Paul Ryan is talking up a Republican budget plan that cuts Medicaid, Pell grants, and school lunches. Meanwhile Senator Rand Paul is congratulating companies that cook their books to avoid paying taxes.  The two Pauls perfectly encapsulate the insanity of GOP positioning on taxes and public investment.  

A new study by Citizens for Tax Justice, which looked at the most profitable U.S. corporations, found that many of them paid little or no federal income tax from 2008 to 2012. Out of 288 companies, 111 paid nothing in federal income tax in at least one of the five years measured. Meanwhile, the tax code has not been seriously overhauled in 27 years.

We now give you five companies who excel in giving the middle finger to the American taxpayer and preventing us from doing things like educating our children, maintaining our infrastructure, or investing in our future.  Through our taxes, we have subsidized these companies out the Wazoo. Here’s how they repay us.

1. Caterpillar Inc.

What a greedy worm! The heavy-equipment manufacturer came up with a bald-faced scheme to avoid around $2.4 billion in taxes since 2000. Forking over $55 million to its tax consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers, to come up with the bookkeeping hustle allowed it to hold on to many times that amount — money that should have gone to the U.S. Treasury. Like those taxes you pay, for example.

Last Tuesday, Senator Carl Levin’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which has been looking into corporate offshore tax avoidance, got an earful about sneaky moves concerning spare parts headed for global shipment that Caterpillar kept in its U.S. warehouses. Normally, these parts sales would be subject to U.S. taxes, but Caterpillar cleverly ceded their ownership to a Swiss subsidiary called CSARL, which would book sale as its own and report it to the Swiss authorities, thereby enjoying a tax rate 4 percent to 5 percent.

2. Boeing

Boeing is certainly a high-flyer when it comes to not paying taxes. Though the company benefits from the boatloads of money taxpayers have paid for things like basic research, jet technology, airports, tax payer-funded defense contracts, etc., etc., Boeing repays this largesse by being a tax deadbeat.

When Boeing CEO James McNerney is not screwing over his workers and machinists, he is lobbying to cut Social Security and other vital services because “we” can’t afford them. He sits on the CEO Council of the notorious “Fix the Debt” (read: Screw the People) gang that tells us that the best way to help the economy is to lower taxes on corporations. As head of the Business Roundtable, he has fought to raise the age of retirement for Americans, and as head of Boeing, he froze the pensions of his workers.

With this packed schedule, he still finds plenty of time for tax-dodging. Want to know how much Boeing paid in taxes in 2013? Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Citizens for Tax Justice reported in November that Boeing received the largest state tax subsidy in history while paying exactly zero state corporate income taxes over the last decade.

In 2013, McNerney’s salary rocketed into the stratosphere. His overall compensation went up a remarkable 66 percent, and he hauled in over $23 million. That’s peanuts compared to what he’s going to get when he retires (perhaps this year) with massive pension benefits, including his “supplemental retirement benefit” valued at $34.15 million.