For the Last Time, GE Didn't Actually Get a Tax Refund
It is our understanding that GE just doesn't pay taxes, which is not the same as getting a refund. A refund, of course, would be really offensive whereas a zero tax bill for a company that made $5.1 billion in U.S. operations last year is just regular offensive.
It doesn't help that the NYT got all pissy about the situation earlier this week, nor that Obama has tapped GE CEO Jeff Immelt to help him figure out how to fix this whole economy problem. "He understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy," our OMG-in-Chief said about Immelt in January. Right. Is that called competing?
Fast forward to yesterday, when a fake press release fooled even the sharp eyes at the AP, who naturally put their faith in the goodness in each and every human being and bought it.
Of course, the following four paragraph AP story made the rounds, as news tends to do:
Facing criticism over the amount of taxes it pays, General Electric announced it will repay its entire $3.2 billion tax refund to the US Treasury on April 18.
GE uses a series of foreign tax havens that the company says are legal and that led to an enormous refund for the 2010 tax year.
The company earned $11 billion in 2010 on revenue of $150 billion.
The company, based in Fairfield, Conn., plans to phase out tax havens over 5 years and said it will create one job in the US for each new job it creates overseas.
The fake press release in question may be found via US Uncut here. Bonus points to AP for using "enormous" in this context, whether or not the story was actually true.
The prank clipped $3.5 billion off GE's market cap in a matter of hours, not bad for a bunch of activists sick of this shit.
GE's response? “It’s a hoax and GE did not receive a refund.” Right. It's not a refund. We get it. That should have been AP's first clue (everyone knows the Treasury can't afford cutting that kind of check these days) but without GE's team of tax rocket scientists on their team, it's easy to see how they may have been confused.
The question now, of course, is will the SEC investigate these Yes Men and pursue charges in retaliation for the $3.5 billion hit GE took?
Does anyone else find it only slightly ironic that tax shelters were mentioned and GE is audited by - wait for it - KPMG? Of course, Francine McKenna already pointed out the cozy GE/KPMG relationship that goes back to 1909. Just sayin.