More than one hundred citizen tax collectors descended on the downtown offices of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) Thursday afternoon, demanding the nation’s largest corporation pay its fair share in taxes. Agents were prompted to action after a review of recent SEC filings revealed GE had posted an $11.6 billion profit in 2010, yet somehow managed to rake in a $3.2 billion federal tax refund for the same period.
Unwilling to defend their -27.6% tax rate, General Electric dispatched a squad of security guards and police officers to blockade the building’s doors and prevent tax collectors from entering. When a small team of Citizen Tax Collector special agents arrived at the company’s 12th floor offices to serve the overdue tax invoice, they found the doors barred shut. Efforts to reach company management locked inside proved unsuccessful.
A 2011 report estimated that Massachusetts lost more than $140 million in federal spending and aid as a result of GE’s tax avoidance – enough to stave off painful budget cuts and keep hundreds of construction workers, teachers and first responders on the job. The figure does not include the $77 million in revenue Bay Staters lost to fund General Electric’s tax refund.
Though today’s efforts to recoup the damages to Massachusetts families were unsuccessful, Citizens Tax Collector agents promised to aggressively pursue collection efforts on General Electric and other corporate tax dodgers in the coming months.