Three U.S. oil companies paid a total of $289.7 billion in corporate income taxes between 2007 and 2012, the biggest portion of corporate taxes in absolute terms, according to analysis by Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ.
The data show, as reported in the New York Times on May 25, 2013, that when it came to corporate income taxes -- federal, state, local, and foreign – between 2007 to 2012 the three major oil companies paid the following: ExxonMobil, $146 billion; Chevron, $85.5 billion; and ConocoPhillips, $58.2 billion.
That totals $289.7 billion.
In addition, a 2013 report (p. 7) by the oil and natural gas trade group American Petroleum Institute (API), using S&P Research Insight and S&P 1500 by GICS Industry Code data, shows that the oil and gas industry had the highest effective tax rate during that time period (averaged over 2007-2012) of any U.S. business: 44.6%.
That compares, according to S&P Capital IQ, to Apple -- the largest market capital company at $400 billion – which had an effective tax rate of 14% over the same timeframe. Oil and gas firms are paying more than three times the tax rate of Apple.
Because Starr can't be bothered to go beyond PR flacks for the API, readers don't know that this amount is in dispute because of how the tax figures are computed. Reuters reports:
The difference between the effective tax rate cited by Exxon and lower rates cited by groups such as Citizens for Tax Justice, a left-leaning tax activist group, has several causes.
One is that the company counts foreign taxes paid, while Citizens for Tax Justice does not. Another is that Exxon counts deferred taxes, as well, but the consumer group does not. Still another is which profits are counted by the company and critics.
There are other technical variations shaping the calculations of effective tax rates, but these subtleties are often lost in the sound bites of the ongoing tax policy debate.
Citizens for Tax Justice considers U.S. profits and U.S. taxes paid only. By that measure, Exxon Mobil paid 13 percent of its U.S. income in taxes after deductions and benefits in 2011, according to a Reuters calculation of securities filings.
Chevron paid about 19 percent by that method, near CTJ's average for all industries.
It is a far cry from the 35 percent top corporate tax rate.
But, again, since the only person Starr apparently actually talked to for this article was a "spokesperson for API," she's not reporting the full truth.