Big Oil’s tax dodges

Proposition 23 would let them pollute without paying

The author chairs the Yahi Group (Chico) of the Sierra Club.

Texas-based Valero Energy Corp. had $35.6 billion in total assets in 2009. According to Valero’s first-quarter 2010 report, that same year the corporation received a $923 million income-tax return resulting from $352 million in operational losses, re-investments and debt refinancing. No wonder the federal government has a deficit of $1.3 trillion: The richest corporations in our nation use tax loopholes to evade paying their fair share of taxes.

In 2008 the Government Accountability Office found that two out of three U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005! A current example is Exxon-Mobil, which had a $45.2 billion profit in 2009 and paid no federal income tax!

Taxpayers should be outraged at the tax-code inequities and loopholes corporations utilize. American taxpayers are saddled with an annual $100 billion tax burden placed on them by big corporations’ offshore shelter practices and loopholes. State, county and city governments are going through an extreme budget crisis, while corporations continue to avoid paying their fair share. In California, the share of total state taxes provided by corporations went from 14.5 percent in 1979 to 7.9 percent in 2000.

In 2009 the federal government collected $1.1 trillion in income tax. Of that, $915 billion came from individual income-tax payments (87 percent), and $138 billion came from corporate income taxes (13 percent). Individuals paid 6.6 times more in income taxes than corporations, whereas 30 years ago individual income taxes were only 3.3 times greater than corporate income taxes. Corporations continue to pay less in taxes, and it will get worse if we let them.

Now Big Oil is trying to deceive everyone again with TV commercials saying vote yes on Proposition 23 to “Stop the Energy Tax,” by deceptively making it appear as if we are being taxed. Don’t be tricked into letting Big Oil off the hook. If Proposition 23 passes, we the taxpayers will end up paying the bill with higher household electric bills, unhealthful air, loss of clean-technology investments and clean-energy jobs.

Valero and Tesoro refineries in California dumped 5.5 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas pollutants into our air in 2008. They need to pay their trash bill, just like we pay ours. Make Big Oil pay its fair share; vote no on Proposition 23, or the taxpayer will be stuck with the bill once again.