General Electric is America’s biggest firm, but it’s not paying a dime in US taxes this year—instead, it has claimed a $3.2 billion tax benefit, the New York Times reports. Though it made a $14.2 billion profit in 2010, $5.1 billion of which was made here, GE’s aggressive accounting strategies and lobbying have, year after year, cut its tax burden on US profits. The reported figure is 7.4%, a third of what most American multinational firms pay—and thanks to offshore shelters, it’s even less in reality.
The company’s huge tax department, which includes former IRS members and writers of the tax code, has been called the best tax law firm in the world. GE has lobbied to change tax law in order, for example, to get credits for its wind turbine projects. The company is unapologetic: “We are committed to complying with tax rules and paying all legally obliged taxes," says a spokeswoman. "At the same time, we have a responsibility to our shareholders to legally minimize our costs.”