25 American Companies that Spend More on Lobbyists than Taxes

Here’s something to discuss around the water cooler…a list of 25 Fortune 500 companies that spent more on lobbying than they did on federal taxes between 2008 and 2012.

Public Campaign looked over data from Citizens for Tax Justice and the Center for Responsive Politics and found these 25 firms generated nearly $170 billion in profits while collecting $8.7 billion in tax rebates. The companies paid lobbyists more than a half billion dollars.

  • General Electric topped the list for tax rebates with a $3.1 billion return despite $27.5 billion in U.S. profits. The $129.7 million GE spent on lobbying overall included specific lobbying on the corporate tax loopholes most helpful to GE, particularly the active financing exception.

  • PG&E, the utility company with a near monopoly in parts of California, made over a billion in profit in 2012 and still received a $74 million refund that year. Like other energy companies in this group, PG&E benefitted in particular from accelerated depreciation.

  • Boeing recently received the largest state tax subsidy in history: $8.7 billion from Washington state.Lobbyists for Boeing in Washington state include two revolving door experts. Long-time lobbyistTimothy Keating has worked on the Hill and in the White House. Immediately before lobbying for Boeing Jennifer Lowe was Senator Norm Coleman’s chief of staff. 

To be clear, these companies didn’t spend all their lobbying fees on tax issues, but that money—on top of millions in campaign cash their lobbyists, PACs, and executives donate to politicians—give them extra access to and influence on politicians who are debating policies like tax reform that directly effect them.