"Green Credits" Reduce Corporate Tax Rate to 0%

Posted: Mar 07, 2011 8:55 AM
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Whirlpool Corporation paid 0% in taxes last year due to a variety of "green energy" tax credits that reduced their tax liability by over $500 million. Via the TaxProf:

Whirlpool has stockpiled more than $500 million in tax credits for making energy-saving "energy star" appliances—washers, dryers, refrigerators and so on. The firm gets a production tax credit of up to $200 per refrigerator, $75 per dishwasher, and $225 per washer and dryer. General Electric has also collected about $200 million of these credits.

The deal gets sweeter. Those credits can be carried over from one year to the next for up to 20 years. Whirlpool is collecting so many credits that it may not have to pay a dime of corporate income tax for years.

Some on the Left have "found religion" on corporate tax reform, with even President Obama making a big point of the rigged tax code in his State of the Union speech. As he said,

[O]ver the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.

So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years.

So here's a question: when a massive army of environmental lobbyists rigs the corporate tax code so that Whirlpool and General Electric collect hundreds of millions in "green credits" that can be carried year-to-year, will President Obama and his cohorts on the Left be angling for an elimination of credits that pick corporate winners and losers?

I'm not holding my breath. Because this is an issue that was brought up because there are some corporate tax credits that the Left doesn't like, while some that they love. Obama is in favor of social engineering through the tax code. He's in favor of picking winners and losers. I'd be very surprised if he does anything substantial to eliminate the green credits that benefit Whirlpool and GE. He's after the ones that benefit ExxonMobil and Boeing.