The three largest oil companies paid the most in taxes in absolute terms of all major corporations, according to data on S&P 500 companies compiled by The New York Times.
President Barack Obama has chastised oil companies for receiving billions of dollars in tax breaks. However, the Times reports that ExxonMobil paid $146 billion in taxes; Chevron paid $85 billion; and ConocoPhillips paid $58 billion over the last five years.
In terms of their effective tax rates, the big three oil companies don’t get off easily either. Exxon had an effective tax rate of 37 percent, Chevron’s effective tax rate was 39 percent, and ConocoPhillips’s was a whopping 74 percent. The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent.
In fact, the big three oil companies paid multiples more, in both total dollars and effective tax rates, than such administration favorites as Apple, Google and General Electric.
President Obama sparked a conflict with the oil industry when he called for eliminating $4 billion in tax breaks to oil, gas and coal companies.
“As we continue to pursue clean energy technologies that will support future economic growth, we should not devote scarce resources to subsidizing the use of fossil fuels produced by some of the largest, most proﬁtable companies in the world,” read the president’s 2014 budget proposal. “That is why the Budget proposes to eliminate unnecessary fossil fuel subsidies that impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to address the threat of climate change.”
However, last year Exxon and Chevron ranked in the top two companies that paid the most in taxes. ConocoPhillips ranked sixth in terms of taxes paid, reports USA Today. In 2012, Exxon paid $31.05 billion, Chevron paid $20 billion, and ConocoPhillips paid $7.94 billion.
“The oil and gas industry gets no subsidies, zero, nothing,” said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute — the nation’s largest oil and gas lobby. “We get cost-recovery benefits, much like other industries. You can go down the road of allowing economic activity, generating hundreds of billions to the government, or you can take the alternative route by trying to extract new revenue from industry by increasing their cost to do business.”
The president’s budget seeks to eliminate tax breaks for fossil fuels while increasing funding for programs that promote green energy use, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency. However, in terms of tax benefits, green firms are already the largest beneficiary.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, tax benefits for renewable energy and energy efficiency make up three-quarters of more than $16 billion in energy-related tax subsidies the U.S. for 2013.
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