Check out this opinion piece defending GE's corporate tax strategy.
From Yahoo News:
It is hard to imagine that General Electric (GE), whose nuclear plants have been in the spotlight since the recent Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami, would have anything positive to say about that natural disaster, but the media uproar that followed it meant that the world's newspapers were distracted from the multinational corporation's recent SEC filing. That filing, Form 10-K, revealed that in 2010, for the second year in a row, General Electric paid zero federal income taxes.
The 258 page long PDF document was finally analyzed this week by reporters who latched onto phrases like "GE's effective tax rate is reduced because active business income earned and indefinitely reinvested outside the United States is taxed at less than the U.S. rate." The New York Times in particular took pleasure in writing a long-winded four-page diatribe that all but accused GE's tax department, led by John Samuels, a former Treasury official, of committing tax evasion in an effort to avoid paying the 35% federal income tax rate on tax profits.
What most readers of the New York Times, and anyone else not well versed in accounting rules and tax regulations, is likely unaware of, is that tax profits are different than book profits. There are expenses that can be deducted for accounting records but not for tax liabilities and vice versa. Major corporations like GE do complicated calculations each quarter to find out exactly what those differences are so that there are no ugly surprises when they report information to both their shareholders and the taxing authorities.
One of the New York Times' accusations is that GE pays no taxes in the United States. Logic tells us, though, that this simply is not true. With nearly 150,000 employees in the United States, GE pays millions in payroll taxes like employers of all sizes. GE also may pay income taxes to those states that it has a significant presence. While each state defines nexus, which triggers income tax return filing requirements, differently, considering GE's size, it is likely that they file and pay taxes in many states in this country. They also likely pay franchise tax fees as well as sales tax to various states and cities.