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GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt Defends General Electric Tax Rate

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GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. He said on Tuesday that GE paid a 29 percent tax rate last year.
GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. He said on Tuesday that GE paid a 29 percent tax rate last year.

General Electric's CEO has a message for people angry about reports that the company isn't paying enough in taxes: Move along, nothing to see here.

"Pay your fair share!" Occupy Wall Street protesters shouted during a speech by GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt in Detroit on Tuesday, according to several news outlets. "We pay taxes, and you should too," they shouted, according to CBS Detroit.

"Tax rate was 29 percent last year," Immelt replied as protestors were escorted out of the room, according to the Detroit News.

"The overall rate was 29 percent, the U.S. rate was 25 percent," Keith Sherin, GE's CFO, told Reuters on Friday. "For people to say we don't pay any taxes when you have those actual numbers, I just don't know what else they want us to do."

The top corporate tax rate currently is 35 percent. The Obama administration proposed in February lowering the top corporate tax rate to 28 percent in order to encourage corporations to repatriate their income to the U.S. Many currently keep cash outside the U.S. to avoid paying any taxes at all.

GE first came under scrutiny for its taxes after The New York Times reported last March that company paid no taxes at all in 2010.

A report from the left-leaning research group Citizens for Tax Justice in 2011, claimed that GE paid an effective federal income tax rate of 11.3 percent that year. The group reported that GE's effective federal income tax rate was negative 76.6 percent in 2010, negative 52.9 percent in 2009, and negative 14.0 percent in 2008, figures that GE has disputed. Another CTJ report claimed that GE has paid an average 2.3 percent tax rate over the past decade.

Twenty-six Fortune 500 companies, including GE, Pepco Holdings, and Duke Energy, paid no net federal income taxes between 2008 and 2011, according to CTJ.

The Greenlining Institute, a nonprofit research group, found earlier this month that last year, Apple paid a 9.8 percent income tax rate, Google paid an 11.9 percent income tax rate and Amazon paid a 3.5 percent income tax rate.

Corporate tax rates are at their lowest level in four decades, according to Congressional Budget Office statistics cited by The Wall Street Journal.

Check out the ten Fortune 500 companies that paid the least in federal income taxes last year, according to Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy:

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