Once More With Feeling! GE Will Pay U.S. Income Tax This Year

More

GE did not get a $3.2 billion tax refund, as the New York Times reported last week. The multinational company says it "expects to have a small U.S. income tax liability for 2010," according to Pro Publica's Allan Sloan and Jeff Gerth.

Our own Megan McArdle looked into the issue last week after the Times explosive story asserted that the country's sixth largest company by revenue would somehow close 2010 with a $3 billion gift from the IRS. She called poppycock on the Times. The Times mounted a convincing defense. Sloan and Gerth back McArdle:

GE's 2010 financial statements reported a $3.25 billion U.S. "current tax benefit," which is where the Times, which declined comment, got its $3.2 billion "tax benefit" number. But a company's "current tax" number has nothing to do with what it actually pays in taxes for a given year. "Current tax benefit" and "current tax expense" are so-called financial reporting numbers, used to calculate the profits a company reports to shareholders.

They have nothing to do with what a company sends to (or receives from) the IRS. "Any correlation between the 'current tax expense' and the current tax payable is likely coincidental," says a leading tax authority, Ed Outslay, Deloitte/Michael Licata professor of accounting at Michigan State University's business school.

After repeated conversations with GE -- remember, we've been working on this story too -- we can finally give you reasonably definitive answers.

The company says that it's not getting any refund for 2010 -- validating Outslay's analysis. Its 2010 tax situation? "We expect to have a small U.S. income tax liability for 2010," GE chief spokesman Gary Sheffer told us. How big is small? GE declined to say. The number is unlikely to ever be disclosed unless GE goes public with it, or is forced to do so.

Read the full story at Pro Publica.


Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In