JAMES-MCNERNEY01.jpg
It's time to play America's favorite game show, Why Being a Corporation is Better Than Being a Person! Today's theme is: taxes--specifically, how the phrase

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Boeing and Microsoft: Two of America's Top-Ten "Biggest Corporate Tax Cheats"

JAMES-MCNERNEY01.jpg
It's time to play America's favorite game show, Why Being a Corporation is Better Than Being a Person! Today's theme is: taxes--specifically, how the phrase "death and taxes" may apply to people, but certainly not to big companies.

You see, certain companies find ways to cheat on paying taxes all the time. They hire overseas workers, set up offshore tax shelters, file patents in other countries, and generally sniff out any loophole possible to avoid paying even a cent in taxes that's not forcibly removed from them.

In fact AlterNet just came up with a list of the top 10 "Biggest Corporate Tax Cheats," and Washington-based companies make up exactly one-fifth of it.

Boeing kicks things off at #3.

CEO: W. James McNerney (According to Forbes, McNerney is the 101st most highly compensated CEO, pulling in a cool $58 million over the last five years.)

2010 Pre-tax Profit: $4.5 billion

How Boeing avoid paying US taxes: According to MSNBC, "despite a double-digit tax rate, Boeing has managed to escape paying federal taxes for the last three years thanks to a plethora of foreign subsidiaries, which act as a tax haven. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the airplane maker paid 0.3 percent of its pre-tax income in federal income taxes in 2010."

Boeing fun fact: Boeing may be a defense contractor that's flush with cash, but it reportedly uses prison labor to assemble cable assemblies for the F-15 fighter. At least the jobs are in the US!

And at #10 (frankly, we're surprised they're so low), it's Microsoft.

CEO: Steve Ballmer (With a fortune of $14.5 billion, Ballmer is the 33rd richest person, according to Forbes.)

2010 Pre-tax Profit: $25 billion.

Taxation strategy: Microsoft is a master of shifting income through various foreign countries-- "to Bermuda via the Netherlands via Ireland" --in order to limit its domestic income subject to taxation. According to the blog MicrosoftTaxDodge, a carefully timed press release threatening to move the company's headquarters out of Washington state resulted in Rep. Ross Hunter, a 17-year former manager at Microsoft, pushing through "two huge gifts [for the company]: a $100 million annual tax cut and an estimated $1.25 billion in amnesty on its 13-year Nevada tax dodge."

Microsoft fun-fact: Both US and European regulators have found Microsoft in violation of anti-trust laws - it's practically the firm's business model.

The full list is:

1. Google

2. News Corp.

3. Boeing

4. Pfizer

5. Oracle

6. Altria

7. IBM

8. Time Warner

9. Morgan Stanley

10. Microsoft

The difference between those 10 companies and, say, convicted tax-cheat Wesley Snipes, is that corporate tax evasion is considered "savvy business" while individual tax evasion is a "felony."

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