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8 Companies with Negative Taxes that Paid Millions to their CEOs

Aug. 22, 2012
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A recent study by the Institute for Policy Studies revealed that the CEOs of 26 major corporations took home more in their paychecks than the entire company paid in federal income taxes for 2011.

Furthermore, 14 of these companies actually received a tax refund from the government, even though each of them had made billions in pre-tax income that year, as can be seen in our Corporate Tax Rate Transparency Tool.

“Executive Excess 2012: The CEO Hands in Uncle Sam’s Pocket” featured a fair number of corporations, but there were a few that stood out in terms of the amount they received in benefits. The following corporations each received nine-digit tax refunds from the federal government, while paying their chief executives tens of millions of dollars:



In 2011, Citigroup made $14.6 billion in pre-tax income, while receiving a tax benefit of $144 million from the government. Their CEO, Vikram Pandit, meanwhile brought home $14.9 million. Regarding the size of his paycheck, he said, “There’s one thing that’s true for me and most Americans, I don’t determine my own compensation and my own package.”



Devon Energy

Devon Energy’s chief executive John Richels received $18 million in compensation while his company received $143 million in tax benefits. The company made a total of $4.3 billion in 2011.




Travelers Companies

Jay Fishman, CEO of Travelers, said of his company’s 2011 performance, “we are pleased that the strength of our businesses enabled us to generate net income of $1.4 billion.” Last year, Fishman’s compensation was $16.5 million, though his company received $176 million in tax benefits.





Though FirstEnergy made $1.4 billion in pre-tax income last year, they also received $243 million from the government. Their chief executive, Anthony Alexander walked away with $18.3 million for the year.





“I feel as good about our network today as I have in five years,” said Randall Stephenson, chief executive of AT&T. The company brought in $6.7 billion in pre-tax income last year. But they ended up receiving $420 million in tax benefits from Uncle Sam. However, Stephenson ended up taking home $22 million for the year.




Abbott Laboratories

Abbott brought in $5.2 billion in pre-tax income in 2011, under their chief executive, Miles White. White has been CEO of Abbott since 1998, and became their chair of the board in 1999. Last year, he received a compensation package of $24 million, while his company received tax benefits, which came to a total of $586 million.





W. James McNerney Jr., CEO of Boeing, received $23 million in compensation last year. He said in a statement, “Boeing supports a simpler, more competitive tax code. At the same time, we have put the R&D tax credit to exactly the use it was designed – creating U.S. jobs in a high-value, advance technology industry.” The company received $605 million in federal tax benefits, and made $5.4 billion in 2011.





In 2011, Halliburton made $4.4 billion in pre-tax income. They also received a tax benefit of $1 billion.  CEO David Lesar commented, “I am very please with our fourth quarter and full year 2011 results, which set records for revenue and operating income.” Lesar took home $15.9 million for the year, a six percent increase from 2010.



In determining the total chief executive compensation for 2011, we used the figure provided in the companies’ DEF 14A filings. Pre-tax income and federal income tax paid were found within the companies’ 10-K filings. The SEC has made all these documents available to the public.