DFW Companies Big On Corporate Tax-Dodger List

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas-based Dean Foods’ income tax rate was negative 38 percent last year.  It earned $126 million in profit.

Atmos Energy, also headquartered in Dallas, had an income tax rate of negative 22 percent.  Atmos earned $328 million in 2010.

And Chesapeake Energy, which has major operations in and around Fort Worth, had an income tax rate of negative 4 percent.   Chesapeake earned $2.8 billion in profit last year.

The numbers are revealed in a new report from Citizens for Tax Justice, a left-leaning nonprofit group.

The report, called “Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010,” says 37 U.S. corporations paid no income tax in 2010.  Many actually got refund checks from the U.S. Treasury.

Officially, U.S. corporations are supposed to pay a 35 percent income tax rate.  In reality, according to the report, the average effective rate is about half that.

The study looked at 280 companies across the country for three years.  All are listed on the Fortune 500, and all were profitable during each of the three years.

The businesses which paid zero or negative income tax did so because of various loopholes and tax breaks.

In a statement, Chesapeake spokesman Michael Kehs said, “Agenda-driven uses of statistics don’t advance serious policy discussion or America’s search for jobs.  We paid over $650 million in taxes in 2010 and grew our workforce 25%, to more than 10,000 taxpaying Americans.  We invested 100% of our cash flow into finding and producing new sources of American energy, which helped lower the price of natural gas, saving consumers $250 million a day.  We are proud of our contributions to the country.”

Atmos spokesman Ray Granado emailed us a statement which read in part, “The period over which Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy calculated the effective tax rate of -11.6% (Editor’s note: -11.6% was Atmos’ overall tax rate from 2008-2010) was a period that saw numerous economic incentive packages passed by Congress in response to the recent economic crisis. The enactment of economic stimulus measures was outside the control or influence of Atmos Energy. Like any responsible taxpayer, Atmos Energy has merely reported its taxes in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code.”

Neither company disputed the numbers in the report.

The study deals only with corporate income tax and not the other kinds of taxes that businesses pay.

It’s also important to note that several DFW-based companies paid much more in income tax.  Kimberly-Clark paid 24 percent; Exxon Mobil paid 13 percent; and Southwest Airlines paid 27 percent.  Texas Instruments paid the official rate of 35 percent last year.

Dean Foods has not responded to a request for comment.

The entire report is available here.

  • Chuck

    Corporation are in the business of making money. If the government gives them so called loop holes in the tax codes then don’t you think they should utilize them. If the government closes those loop holes then they would have to pay more taxes.

  • Micahel

    How much did they make in campaign donations and to who?

  • cathy white

    I never did understand how you can have a negative tax rate, for businesses or individuals. We all know about the loopholes, so it makes sense that those loopholes can sometimes be worked into a low or zero tax rate. But how can you get money back from the government when you have paid nothing to it?! And we wonder why this country is in the state it is in today!

  • HeyZeus

    Wait a moment. Chesapeake Energy made 2.8 BILLION dollars last year, yet they feel the need to deduct part of THEIR operating costs from OUR mineral payouts??? Unbelievable. I know they stated that it was lawful.. But we know their campaign ‘contributions’ helped that alot. Time to clean house in Austin, get some real Representatives in there and take our money back!

  • Engprat

    Loopholes, no such thing as they are legal tax deductions created by congress. If there is a fault it is with congress, the body that sets tax law. So easy to go after a company or an individual who is able to use the law.

  • Patriot

    The problem at hand is not one of they are legal tax deductions, it’s a matter of if Congress has sold out and had their votes bought to pass such deductions. A company that made huge donations or provides kickbacks to get favors from a representative is not innocently taking a legal tax deduction, but buying this Nation.

    • Chuck

      If they are buying the Nation then we have a bunch of elected officials that are selling it.

  • We want jobs, right?

    The people ON BOTH SIDES of congress are to blame, if blame is warranted. If Chesapeake has 10,000 employees and they each make 50,000 a year, then the company contributes over 38 million in social security for their employees each year. The insurance they pay to insure their workers in the field must be astronomical. If we cherry pick certain aspects of a companies spread sheet we can make them all look bad. How many folks pay their insurance through their company BEFORE your taxable income??? I do and I do not feel that is a “loop hole” I am doing what is best for my family, just insert company where family is, maybe that will help ease your pain.

  • Rick McDaniel

    The problem comes from providing incentives to corporations that allow them to escape taxes.

    Again, if the tax code is used as a control device to impact the economy, then that is going to result in inequities in many cases.

    That is the fault of government…….and no one else.

  • http://politically-inclined.com/2011/11/07/769/ Anonymous

    […] list, put together by Citizens for Tax Justice, lists companies who paid no income tax in 2010. In DFW, Dean Food’s, Atmos Energy and Chesapeake Energy made the list. All three dodged taxes […]

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