Big, Evil Oil Companies Pay Most in Taxes

Katie Pavlich

3/19/2013 11:53:00 AM - Katie Pavlich

It's no surprise liberals love taxes. The new Democratic Senate budget calls for $1 trillion in tax increases in order to offset $1 trillion in new spending. But liberals who constantly demonize big oil are biting the hand that feeds and fulfills their big govenrment spending dreams. It turns out, big oil companies like Exxon Mobile and Chevron pay the most in taxes out of any other company. 

1. ExxonMobil
• Income tax expense: $31.05 billion
• Earnings before taxes: $78.73 billion
• Revenue: $428.38 billion
•1-year share price change: 6.56%
• Industry: Oil and gas

Large multinational oil companies have been among the largest payers of corporate federal taxes for years. Exxon's (XOM) income tax amount was approximately the same in 2011 as it was in 2012 — $31 billion. A simple reason for Exxon's position at the top of the tax paying list is its size. It vies with Wal-Mart each year for the spot as the publicly traded U.S. company with the greatest revenue. Exxon's revenue has averaged more than $400 billion a year from 2007 to 2012. Part of Exxon's success is tied to the price of crude oil. A barrel of WTI crude was worth $35 in 2003. The price reached $60 in 2006 and rarely dropped below it thereafter. It rose above $100 in 2008 and has occasionally topped that price since then. Whether Exxon can stay atop both the tax and revenue list much longer depends on several factors, not the least of which are new sources of energy led by solar, wind and particularly shale-based fossil fuels. One benefit Exxon has that may allow it to keep the top position as America's largest company is its role as the number one producer of natural gas.

2. Chevron
• Income tax expense: $20.00 billion
• Earnings before taxes: $46.33 billion
• Revenue: $222.58 billion
• 1-year share price change: 9.52%
• Industry: Oil and gas

It is somewhat unfair to say that Chevron (CVX) is a more modest sized version of Exxon, but in many cases it is. Chevron is the third largest public company in the U.S. based on sales, just above another energy multinational, ConocoPhillips, which was recently broken into two parts. Chevron has paid more than $10 billion a year in taxes in every year except one since 2005. And its revenue since the same year has only once dropped below $200 billion during that time. Like other large energy companies, it has added liquid natural gas to its reserve base, because natural gas currently accounts for 23% of the world's energy consumption. One challenge Chevron faces as it moves forward is the difficulty of finding new oil fields. This will require Chevron to make greater and greater efforts at deepwater drilling and oil sands production. Chevron is sanguine about its long-term prospects; it expects to increase production 20% by 2017.

As you can imagine, bankrupt companies like Solyndra don't pay much in taxes.