If you buy one gallon of gasoline — just one gallon — you pay 18.4 cents to the United States government in federal taxes. And that's more than ExxonMobile.
In 2009, ExxonMobile, the world's second largest company, with a gross operating profit of nearly $53 billion, paid zero dollars to the United States government.
Now, to be sure, ExxonMobile paid income taxes — $15 billion as a matter of fact — but none of it to the United States. Forbes explains why:
Exxon tries to limit the tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. No wonder that of $15 billion in income taxes last year, Exxon paid none of it to Uncle Sam, and has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas.
This is not unusual: an August 2008 GAO report sought by Sen. Byron Dorgan and Sen. Carl Levin found that "[t]wo out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005." While many corporations did not pay taxes because they had net losses for those years, that wasn't the case for some of the big guys. In 2005, for example, 25% of large U.S. corporations paid no taxes, despite having a combined revenue of $1.1 trillion.
Conservatives who claim to be concerned about the deficit should be all over this. Making United States corporations like ExxonMobile pay income taxes to the United States would go a long way in reducing the deficit. Obama wants to close these loopholes.
But don't hold your breath that conservatives will join Obama in this endeavor. ExxonMobil spent $27,430,000 lobbying Congress, mostly Republicans, against job-killing, confiscatory "socialism" (as they put it).