A March 24 NY Times article headlined "GE’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether" described how General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, reported $14.2 billion in 2010 global profits, including $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States, yet not only paid absolutely zero U.S. taxes, but actually claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.
Reporter David Kocieniewski notes that "low taxes are nothing new for GE", and are the result of "an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks with innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits off-shore. GE’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm".
According to Kocieniewski, nearly a thousand GE employees spend at least half their time exploiting an already porous tax code that allows corporations to avoid paying taxes on income from certain kinds of financial operations abroad, and then use tax credits, write-offs, and depreciation from those activities to off-set taxes on domestic profits.
"But critics say the use of so many shelters amounts to corporate welfare", the article says, and that "the assertive tax avoidance of multinationals like GE not only shortchanges the Treasury, but also harms the economy by discouraging investment and hiring in the United States".