GE director of media relations Andrew Williams emails in response to this story:
We agree with Congressman Ryan that the U.S. tax system needs to be reformed and all loopholes should be closed. Furthermore, Congress needs to lower the corporate rate and provide the US a territorial system like every other major country in the world.
Here are the facts around our taxes. GE paid almost $2.7 billion of income taxes to governments around the world during 2010 including payment of substantial income taxes to the US government for prior years. GE paid income taxes for our 2010 return. GE also paid more than $1 billion in other federal, state and local taxes in the U.S. in 2010. The main reason why GE’s tax rate was so low in 2010 was that we lost billions of dollars in GE Capital as a result of the global financial crisis.
Williams's claim that GE "paid income taxes for our 2010 return" is contrary to reports in March the New York Times and ABC, which stated that GE paid no federal income taxes and actually received a $3.2 billion tax benefit. Williams points out that the New York Times reported in August what GE's tax benefit means:
“The financial data in the report was taken from the companies' regulatory filings, which can differ from what is actually filed on a corporate tax return. Even in a year when a company claims an overall tax benefit, it may pay some cash taxes while accumulating credits that can be redeemed in future years. For instance, General Electric reported a federal tax benefit of more than $3 billion in 2010, but company officials said they still expected to pay a small amount of cash taxes.”
Williams said GE's policy is not to say how much GE paid in corporate taxes.