Over The Past 4 Years News Corp Generated $10.4 Billion In Profits And Received $4.8 Billion In "Taxes" From The IRS

Tyler Durden's picture

Call it the gift that keeps on giving (if one is a corporation that is): the US Tax system, so effective at extracting income tax from America's working class, is just as "effective" at redistributing said income tax at the corporate level. Case in point: News Corp, which after generating $10.4 billion in profits over the past 4 years, and which would have been expected to pay the IRS $3.6 billion at the statutory corporate tax rate, instead received $4.6 billion back from Uncle Sam. Bottom line: Murdoch's corporation had a cash paid tax rate of -46% between 2007 and 2010. The culrpit: two little somethings called Deferred Tax Assets and Net Operating Loss Carry-forwards.

The chart below shows News Corp's profits and annual cash tax receipts.

Is it all just such IRS tax loopholes as deferred tax assets and NOL carryforward? Not entirely. Reuters explains:

How does Murdoch make money off the tax system? There are three basic elements, disclosure statements show.

One is the aggressive use of intra-company transactions that globally allocate costs to locations that impose taxes -- and profits to areas where profits can be earned tax-free.

For that Murdoch can thank laws and treaties that treat multinational corporations much more generously than working stiffs, such as those who make up the audience for his New York Post and for his British tabloids with bare-breasted women. Working stiffs have their taxes taken out of their pay before they get it, while Murdoch gets to profit now and pay taxes by-and-by.

News Corp. has 152 subsidiaries in tax havens, including 62 in the British Virgin Islands and 33 in the Caymans. Among the hundred largest U.S. companies, only Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have more tax haven subsidiaries than News Corp., a 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office study found.

News Corp. had nearly $7 billion permanently invested offshore in 2009, money on which it does not have to pay taxes unless it brings the money back to the United States. Meanwhile, it can use that money as collateral for loans in the United States, where interest paid is a tax-deductible expense.

Granted, this practice accounts for a very modest portion of the total tax receipts. The two far greater culprits are acquired NOLs...

Buying companies with tax losses is a second way Murdoch can pocket, rather than pay, taxes. In three deals to acquire American television stations -- in 1985, 1990 and 2001 -- questions were raised about whether Murdoch entities were in compliance with American rules limiting the ownership stakes of foreign investors.

A memo, turned over to the Federal Communications Commission during one of these inquiries, showed that in 1990 Murdoch's advisers were, in the words of Michael Gardner, an outside counsel to News Corp., "in agreement that it is paramount to avoid any corporate restructuring which would potentially invite reexamination of Fox TV's ownership structure" by the FCC.

In 1995, the FCC general counsel, William Kennard, said that a two-year investigation requested by rival NBC and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) found that "Fox did not clearly or explicitly disclose" News Corp.'s ownership stake in American television stations as required. However, Kennard said this lack of candor was insufficient to require a hearing into whether Fox had intended to deceive the commission.

... and, yes, deferred tax assets:

Murdoch's tax lawyers are expert at maximizing the benefits of deferrals. Incurring a tax today, but paying it by-and-by can be profitable. A dollar of tax deferred for 30 years, and invested at 8 percent real growth while inflation runs 3 percent, is worth more than $10 at the end of the period, while the real value of the tax when it is ultimately paid is just 40 cents.

Last year News Corp. had net future tax assets of $3.3 billion. In the past four years News Corp. has either used up a lot of its tax benefits or had them expire. In 2007 its net tax assets were $5.7 billion.

At this point Reuters takes a rare departure from its dry factual reporting to poke some fun at the billionaire, whose empire, and reputation, is suddenly crumbling before his eyes:

Fox News, the editorial pages of his Wall Street Journal and other Murdoch outlets often rail against taxes. Their attacks on government benefits for the elderly, the sick, the jobless and children focus attention on the uses of tax dollars and away from his aggressive efforts to enjoy the benefits of civilization without paying for them.

Many other companies may follow similar practices but most of corporate America doesn't own one of the country's most powerful newspaper editorial pages.
...
Murdoch assiduously courts the powers-that-be for favorable laws and regulatory rulings. Contrast that with the rough and sometimes relentless attacks on politicians and government programs of his newspapers and his Fox News Channel.

Murdoch's news outlets can prove enormously helpful to politicians. His support boosted Hillary Clinton's 2000 campaign for the U.S. Senate from New York, helping her to beat Republican Rick Lazio. Murdoch even hosted a Clinton re-election campaign fundraiser in 2006, while restraining New York Post gossip mongers who looked on her husband as red meat in the White House.

Murdoch gets invited to weddings and celebrations of top American, British and Chinese officials. He flew Tony Blair halfway around the world to a company event in Australia when the future British prime minister was opposition leader.

Imagine how well Jesus might have done if he had put a corporate jet at Caesar's disposal. Or if he had a tabloid like the News of the World to put Caesar in fear of him.

However, in the interest of objectivity, News Corp. is merely one of many corporate transgressors who take full advantage of the massive loopholes in America's tax code. From Bloomberg.

American International Group Inc. (AIG), Citigroup Inc. (C) and General Motors Co. (GM), once the largest insurer, bank and automaker, hold a new distinction after losses forced them to take bailouts. The firms accumulated some of the biggest deferred tax assets that may lower obligations to the government that rescued them.

Losses at New York-based AIG and its subsidiaries helped rack up more than $25 billion in the assets. That’s worth more to AIG’s share price than its plane-leasing business with 933 aircraft, according to Bank of America Corp.

“They’re in the same class of GM and Citigroup in terms of the largest I’ve ever seen,” Robert Willens, an independent tax consultant in New York, said of AIG. “Any one of them is in the hall of fame of large deferred tax assets.”

Citigroup’s $23.2 billion of carry-forwards as of Dec. 31 include benefits from net operating losses and foreign tax credits. The New York-based bank expects to use its entire U.S. federal net operating loss carry-forward this year, according to a regulatory filing. The company valued that asset at about $3.9 billion at the end of last year. Jon Diat, a spokesman for Citigroup, declined to comment.

GM reported $20.1 billion in tax carry-forwards. The automaker amassed tax assets as it posted losses from 2005 to its bankruptcy in 2009, and in some regions outside the U.S. last year. GM is poised to become the No. 1 automaker by sales this year after being passed in 2008 by Toyota Motor Corp.

The sum means the company may not pay taxes to the U.S. until 2018, Adam Jonas, a Morgan Stanley analyst, said in a July 6 research note. Jonas, who swapped GM for Ford Motor Co. as his top U.S. auto pick in the report, said the assets are worth about $9 per share, more than the value of the company’s joint ventures in China. Jim Cain, a spokesman for GM, declined to comment.

As a reminder...

AIG was rescued in 2008 in a bailout that swelled to $182.3 billion. Citigroup received $45 billion from the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program and $301 billion in guarantees on its riskiest assets. The government sold its remaining stake in the bank in December.

GM was bailed out with $49.5 billion in taxpayer funds as the government backed its bankruptcy in 2009. The Treasury reduced its stake to 33 percent last year in a share sale.

It is probably only fitting that companies that have received massive taxpayer generosity to remain in business continue their tax evasive ways and pay absolutely nothing in cash taxes (and probably, quite the inverse) for years and years. After all, who needs corporate cash: there is always the Fed's printing press to make up for any shortfalls. And non-sheltered, middle-class income tax of course.

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Ahmeexnal's picture

Most of those seeds are in reality biodegradable plastic pellets.

quintago's picture

Got Cloward-Priven Strategy?

eureka's picture

Hear, Hear! More of that. Blow up MonSatan. Snipe their fucking execs.

Fukushima Sam's picture

Lol.  You reap what you sow.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Lol.  You reap what you sow.

They're reaping a genetically modified fish-berry whirlwind.

 

ads56's picture

This is the reason why we must take the monies away from the old geezers so they cannot turn their air conditioners on. This is very bullish for equities and we need to ensure that these simple and legal tax rules continue.

firstdivision's picture

That is the stupidest thing I have read on here since Harry Wanger last posted.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Murdoch even believes in global warming insofar as it is caused by poor geezers with air conditioners (and with heaters during the winter).  As in all things, the poor are to blame.

YesWeKahn's picture

When there is a collective interest and private interest, the collective interest is always sacrificed to satisfy the private interest. This is a common sense.

Big Corked Boots's picture

Un.

Fucking.

Believable.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Corporate earnings get taxed when paid out to employees and shareholders. 

Less double (or any) taxation is not a bad thing in my mind, no matter what the means.

Any company not trying to minimize corporate taxes is not acting in the best interests of its shareholders, employees, and customers.

If you want to get angry, then get angry about the legal bribery of public officials by these companies, couched as campaign donations.  Then go do something about it.

Big Corked Boots's picture

As a citizen with shares in corporations, I'd rather see a fair and equitable system applied than see my company apply themselves to gaming the system.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Pray tell, how do you propose to make double taxation fair and equitable?

FEDbuster's picture

Pay to employees is always deductible, dividends to shareholders could be made deductible to corporations issuing them.  Flat tax of 15% on adjusted gross profits, no tax losses only zero tax liability for zero profits in current tax year, end to ALL subsidies and loopholes. 

Plus, start charging a flat 10% tariff (to be shared with all 50 states) on ALL imported goods and commodities (including foreign oil).  It's time to return some manufacturing, mining and oil production to the US, China be damned.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Trade wars for the win!

How exactly do you propose we get the oil from the Middle East, Venezuela, and Canada here to the USA for us to produce?

If the petrol dollar is the dog, then corporate taxes aren't even the flea on the tail of the dog.

FEDbuster's picture

Drill, baby, drill!  Put some Americans to work drilling for our own oil.  Fuck the Arabs.  Israel should turn the whole place into a chunk of glass as their last citizen boards a ship out of there.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

 Fuck the Arabs.

You know that we are!  We are fucking them hard...men, women, children, and future generations!  We are fucking them ROYALLY!  And we will continue to fuck them as long as the tiny minority that is their dictators continue to accept our dollars (exclusively) in exchange for their nations' oil endowment, their biggest and in some cases sole natural resource. 

http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_richards_a_radical_experiment_in_empathy.html

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Drill, baby, drill!

...is functionally equivalent to "drain America first!"

Israel should turn the whole place into a chunk of glass as their last citizen boards a ship out of there

...said the clear-thinking voice of reason and responsibility.

 

eureka's picture

hedgeless - Dismantle US-globa-corpo-fascist empire and oil drops to $40/barrel. Simple.

NotApplicable's picture

He's a 'citizen' so those ideas simply don't exist. Good slaves do not question anything not authorized by their masters.

firstdivision's picture

If you want to get angry, then get angry about the legal bribery of public officials by these companies, couched as campaign donations.  Then go do something about it.

+1

 

 

nedwardkelly's picture

I somewhat agree with you, but this still warrants outrage.

You're ok with the big corps dodging it, because it gets taxed when it's paid out, or recognized by individuals. The problem is that while the big guys are dodging it, avoiding double taxation etc, the small businesses are getting hit right in the balls.

If you're a small to medium sized company you get taxed out the ass. Any increases to corporate taxes will likely hurt small/med companies even more, while the big guys will still dodge it.

It's not cost effective for smaller business to have the accounting infrastructure to support these sort of tax minimization strategies (mainly offshore tax havens etc, things like NOL any 2 bit accountant should be able to handle) so they have to just suck it up and pay the tax. What you end up with is smaller businesses paying close to the corporate tax rate, massive businesses paying closer to 0.

Reduce the corporate tax rate for ALL businesses, but make it enforceable.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

...the small businesses are getting hit right in the balls.

Not true.  Like most, my small and medium businesses have always paid out most of our remaining cash at the end of the year to the shareholders.

nedwardkelly's picture

Are you a c corp? If so, then how are you paying out the remaining cash? If it's a dividend, then you're getting double taxed.

If it's paid as income then sure you're only getting taxed once, but that's not exactly encouraging you to retain any profits to fund future growth now is it?

So my comment is true - for any small company, the tax man hits you in the balls.

stirners_ghost's picture

Save your outrage; you might as well shout at the weather.

Government will always favor the most powerful interests. It's why government exists, period. It has no special abilities that its subjects lack, except for those it forcefully denies them at the behest of more powerful interests (chief among them being itself; perpetuation of its own power).

What motive would it have except to serve some powerful interest or another (political, democratic, business or otherwise)? They're all "special". Sometimes the voting masses are the dominant powerful interest, but usually not. They're easily manipulated.

You will never be able to "fix" this. No finagling of law will have any lasting effect on those who can adjust, circumvent, and dispense with high-minded words on paper.

There is only one law binding government--the law of a greater force. The law of the jungle.

You expect that government should bend to your interests (and will probably co-opt the concept of The People/Public/Citizenry, the Rule of Law, the Republic/Constitution, or whatever worthy cause suits your argument) regardless of your power.

Sorry, the jungle doesn't work that way.

Your government will protect you, directly in proportion to its interest in you--in proportion to your power. The only "solution" is to be powerful yourself, and compete willingly in the "artistocracy of pull" you presently rage against... individually, or collectively (good luck with that).

Or dismiss your officiousness and simply be ungovernable. Let them go to hell. They will. Don't be eager to arrange for a successor.

nedwardkelly's picture

You expect that government should bend to your interests

I expect the government should bend to the interests of the people. That said, i'm first to admit that 'the people' are generally idiots.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Agreed re legal corporate bribery of politicians.  It's the biggest single problem we face in all of the western (and asian for that matter) economies.    As for double taxation, I suspect a lot of the money goes offshore and ends up in the untaxed accounts of some folks at the top of the food chain.   And as a small business owner, I get taxed more times than I can count on everything.  The right wing talks a good game about wanting to help small business, but the party leaders really have no interest in it because they would rather dominate and put everyone else out of business.  They create loopholes for themselves out of the very system they use to kill their competition and/or fund the infrastructre of the countries in which they feed parasitically.  So long as someone else is paying for those roads, bridges and schools to prepare their future debt slave workers, they're happy.  It's what happens when the oligarchs take control.  Heads they win, tails you lose.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

And as a small business owner, I get taxed more times than I can count on everything.

Do you pay mystery taxes others do not?  How many fingers do you have?  Our businesses in Texas pay two (2) taxes on our earnings, corporate income tax and state franchise tax which is paid as a percentage of gross (less revenue from government entities).  I am not counting the inflation tax we all pay, or local property taxes, just taxes on production.

Provide details, please.   Otherwise, your rhetoric will just get lost in the rhetorical storm that is blinding the nation.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Law firm, Florida.  Client costs are treated as loans even though they are merely fronted expenses.  Results in all kinds of tax issues at the end of the year if not balanced perfectly.  Local taxes.  Professional taxes.   High state sales tax. Crushing health insurance cost that I consider a tax because there is no alternative.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Client costs are treated as loans even though they are merely fronted expenses.

Most cock-suckers attorneys mark up client costs such as parking, stenography, copies, Lexus-Nexus to make it a profit center, i.e. revenue.  In Florida, can the cock-suckers attorneys give bribes campaign contributions to the attorneys temporarily working for the government judges deciding their cases like they can here in Texas?

LetThemEatRand's picture

I've practiced down in Texas and the answer is no.  It is much more corrupt in your Lone Star State.  As for your view of lawyers, I am quite certain that your first question when you need a lawyer will be, "who is the biggest bull dog sonofabitch lawyer in town?  I'm going hire him and sue the ....."  Same story, different hypocrite conservative.  Conversation over.  

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Don't be so certain.  I understand the truth of the cliché that the only ones who win in a emotion and money driven feeding frenzy lawsuit are the cocksuckers lawyers.

May the blessings of tort reform and the English Rule come to the good people of Florida.

eureka's picture

And what kind of collection of small businesses do you own?

Let me guess -  a bunch of websites selling how-to "information" - correct?

karzai_luver's picture

I don't see being paid out of the tax base of others as valid minimizing

of a corp tax amount.

Maybe you are ok with socialisim at the point of a gun , I am not.

 

It's past time to do away with all this bull and set a tax rate with no

holes no workarounds no credits.

 

The gvt has no biz giving tax money to corps from my pocket.

If I wish to help said corp and it's shareholders I will invest in it or buy it's products BUTnot at the point of a gvt gun.

fail.

 

hedgeless_horseman's picture

I don't see being paid out of the tax base of others as valid minimizing  of a corp tax amount.

I am not following you.  Please clarify.

 

PS:  Sorry to hear about your boyfriend's brother.

karzai_luver's picture

half bro - lots more where that came from.

If you need clarifying then you ain't trying.

 

I will give you a hint.

Yes or NO.

The gvt is smart enough to even begin to guess what should be a credit or write-off?

 

Provide evidence if you are trying.............

 

hedgeless_horseman's picture

The gvt has no biz giving tax money to corps from my pocket.

I agree with your statement, above.  However, I don't understand the other cryptic-cool mumbo-jumbo. 

If you don't want to clarify, then you are the one not trying very hard.

vast-dom's picture

Sickening.

 

This makes "Taxation Without Representation" look like a best case option; more at inverse progressive.

I strongly believe that taxes should be abolished. And sales tax is akin to sin tax = regressive and only harms the poor.

TheTmfreak's picture

So long as there is a system to game, people/organizations will game it. Especially those with the resources, time and means to game it.

Why we continue to find this surprising is my question.

wisefool's picture

Sales tax can be done in a way that is not regressive. The real story about taxing the Internet will reveal that. Amazon already implements a supply demand+category pricing algorithm.

 

Fresh food (meat, veggies, dairy). Perishable, teaches people to cook healthfully = 0% tax.

Bulk raw commodities (rice, flour, spices,condiments). Same as above, but can be horded = 1% tax.

Processed food/clothing. 2% tax.

TeeVees, I-crap, bandwidth = 4% tax.

Let states collect a progressive sales tax on all automobile purchases. No loop holes for  "Johnny Handy Man" to write off a $75,000 F450 on 25" rims to drive the job site to supervise illegals clean gutters. Same with big agra. Michelle Bachman's daddy in law does not need tax write off on a $45k Harley Davidson edition 400 HP truck with leather seats and LCD screens to drive to the end of the driveway to get the USDA check in the mail.

No "Entertainment" expense deductions. If a sales person is not wearing a short enough skirt/showing enough chest hair, don't rationionalize a dinner at a posh restruant as tax free to make up for your own lack of sales skills.

Legitimate, business only equipment, should still be able to be depreciated, but handle that with a upfront tax rate categorization.

Make up the rest with a Progressive, flat  income tax. no deductions whatsoever. Not even for dependants. give every man woman and child in America a food stamp debit card, which is subject to the tax scheme above.

Corporations, since they are "fictitious persons" should pay the same taxes as real persons. Especially considering that many real people hate paying taxes because thier money funds things they find immoral. Corporations have no conscious to offend so they could easily share the metaphysical guilt.

Retrain and retain every tax professional on energy/water initiatives. Not a new tax regime (cap and trade) but turn them into actual researchers to make advancements in the technology and infrastructure itself. (i.e. have Timmy's peeps finish the solar panels on the white house, since DOE apparently does not have enough resources to get it done). Without sarcasm, I know that tax professionals are some of the most analytically trained people in the labor force, and we use them for exactly what? Adam Smith is rolling over in his grave.

Calculated_Risk's picture

"Make up the rest with a Progressive, flat  income tax."

Income tax is theft, and destined to fail.

Scrap income tax, institute a national sales tax. Let all the pimps, ho's

and dealers pay to play.

wisefool's picture

Oh I agree, but eliminating the income tax entirely is not the American way, or at least not yet. Just listen to the MSM+politicians bleat about the "debt ceiling" which is really an absurd concept, except when you get the tax code as twisted as it is now, then it has iconic meaning. (30% of revenue is tax 70% is printed money)

"America pays its bills" is a perfectly crafted idiom to support the bifurcation of Americans.

1. It is secret language to all the members of the guild who actually pay no taxes, or get taxes back, "wink, wink, remember us at the ballot box"

2. It invokes nationalism in the non-guild members (the Elvis Presley complex) "I am proud of how much taxes I pay"

 

And I would be fine with it, except I am just as patriotic as the next guy. It break my heart to know that China graduates more STEM degrees than the USA .... The USA trains Lawyers and tax professionals. (pimps and hoes in your analogy)

LetThemEatRand's picture

Hey, leave Murdoch alone.  His news organization reports faithfully every day that one half of Americans don't pay any taxes.   It's the welfare queens' fault that America is in debt don't ya know.  If you take money from the government as a poor person, you're scum.  If you take money from the government as a rich person or corporation, you're brilliant and deserve it because you're smart enough to figure out the loopholes.   

azusgm's picture

Those with no income should be taxed at a higher rate.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Of course a lot of hard core righties actually believe that and want to impose a flat sales tax in place of a progressive income tax.   If you did that, you'd get your higher tax rate for those with no income.  Voila!  They are smart little devils.

Calculated_Risk's picture

As if the progressive income tax has worked so well! The bottom don't pay cause they don't work, thus no "income", and the top don't pay because they don't have "income". So us poor fucking shlubs get the bill to support these fucks! STFU with your income tax!

LetThemEatRand's picture

Didn't say I think the current system is the answer. It's broken as hell.  I tend to think some form of flat tax (graduated tax for the poor up to middle and flat above) with no loopholes would be better.  Not perfect, but better.