I’ve talked a lot on this blog about proposed changes to the U.S. federal tax code, and how punitive taxes would undermine American job creation and energy security. I’ve also tried to dispel the myth that oil and gas companies receive special treatment when it comes to taxes.
In considering these specific issues, it’s also worth recalling a general point: ExxonMobil already pays a very, very large amount in taxes. I know that statement might not generate much sympathy from anyone. But at the same time, it is important to put our tax contribution into perspective in any debate about new punitive tax measures.
From 2005 to 2009, our U.S. taxes, including all forms of taxation, totaled $63 billion. In that five-year period, we paid $19 billion more to the U.S. government in taxes than we earned.
Many Americans may not fully realize how significant our tax contribution is and what it means to the American economy. A few comparisons might help.
The tax deposits ExxonMobil paid to the U.S. Treasury from 2005 to 2009 could cover the entire fiscal year 2011 proposed budget for the Department of Education, with $13 billion to spare. Alternatively, it equals the combined fiscal year 2011 proposed budgets for the following agencies:
• Department of Interior ($12 billion)
• Department of Justice ($24.1 billion)
• Environmental Protection Agency ($10 billion)
• Department of Commerce ($8.9 billion)
• And the National Science Foundation ($7.4 billion)
In 2009 alone, ExxonMobil paid $7.7 billion in U.S. taxes. That could have comfortably funded the entire FBI that year. Alternatively, our $7.7 billion could pay for the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force for 10 years. Or, our tax bill would have funded the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the entire National Park Service in 2009.
I realize these aren’t exactly apples-to-apples comparisons. But no matter how you slice it, the oil and gas industry generates a lot of revenue for the government. The oil and gas industry is one of the country’s leading sources of jobs and economic growth – not to mention tax revenue. But there are limits to how much you can tax any industry. Piling on additional industry taxes that put us at a disadvantage with foreign competitors threatens to slow job creation, hamper economic growth, and decrease energy production. How is that good policy?