Well, nobody’s perfect.
The Associated Press published a story this morning based on a fake press release.
The release claimed General Electric would repay its $3.2 billion refund – a refund it got due to massive corporate tax breaks, as reported in a controversial New York Times
managed to grab the bogus story before the AP pulled it. Here it is:
Facing criticism over the amount of taxes it pays, General Electric announced it will repay its entire $3.2 billion tax refund to the US Treasury on April 18.
GE uses a series of foreign tax havens that the company says are legal and that led to an enormous refund for the 2010 tax year.
The company earned $11 billion in 2010 on revenue of $150 billion.
The company, based in Fairfield, Conn., plans to phase out tax havens over 5 years and said it will create one job in the US for each new job it creates overseas.
The release was posted at GENewscenters.com
; GE’s online newsroom is GENewscenter.com
UPDATE: US Uncut
, a grassroots movement to pressure corporations to pay their taxes, has claimed responsibility for the phony press release in (what we can assume) a real press release. The Yes Lab
helped the group develop the release. In the press release, US Uncut spokesperson Carl Gibson said:
"This action showed us how the world could work. For a brief moment people believed that the biggest corporate tax dodger had a change of heart and actually did the right thing. But the only way anything like this is really going to happen is if we change the laws that allow corporate tax avoidance in the first place."
Here’s the original fake press release in its entirety.
Fairfield, CT, 13th April, 2011
– GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt has informed the Obama administration that the company will be gifting its entire 2010 tax refund, worth $3.2 Billion, to the US Treasury on April 18, Tax Day, and will furthermore adopt a host of new policies that secure its position as a leader in corporate social responsibility.
“We want the public to know that we’ve heard them, and that we know many Americans are going through tough times,” said GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. “GE will therefore give our 2010 tax refund back to the public and allow the public to decide how to spend it.”
Immelt acknowledged no wrongdoing. “All seven of our foreign tax havens are entirely legal,” Immelt noted. “But Americans have made it clear that they deplore laws that enable tax avoidance. While we owe it to our shareholders to use every legal loophole to maximize returns – we also owe something to the American people. We didn't write the laws that let us legally avoid paying taxes. Congress did. But we benefit from those laws, and now we'd like to share those benefits. We are proud to be giving something back to America, and we are proud to set an example for all industry to follow.”
Over the coming weeks, GE will conduct a nationwide survey to determine how the company's $3.2 billion returned refund is to be allocated. The survey will be conducted both online and offline, and will permit the public to weigh in on which of the recently-enacted budget cuts they would like to see reversed.
In tandem with the gift, the company is also announcing a host of new policies to restore public faith in the GE brand, including a commitment to keep American jobs in America, and to create one U.S. job for each new job created abroad. The ambitious plan will overhaul accounting systems to allow public transparency and phase out the use of tax havens in five years. “Given my recent appointment as President Obama’s Chairman of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, it is no longer appropriate for GE to engage in practices that, whether by fact or perception, are at odds with the greater good of the nation," Immelt said.
Immelt outlined several concrete steps he would take to push for modernized tax policies that reflect the realities of the global economy. "I will personally ask President Obama to work with Congress to require country-by-country reporting by multi-national corporations of the sales made, profits earned and taxes paid in every jurisdiction where an entity operates. Instead of moving money via “transfer pricing,” corporations ought to pay taxes in the jurisdictions where profits are actually made. If Congress is able to establish standard industry-wide solutions, GE will close our tax haven operations abroad, including our subsidiaries in Bermuda, Singapore and Luxembourg."
Further details on GE’s new policy will be released in the coming weeks.
GE (NYSE: GE) is an advanced technology, services and finance company taking on the world’s toughest challenges. Dedicated to innovation in energy, health, transportation and infrastructure, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.ge.com
GE Corporate, Assistant Director
Communications & Public Affairs
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