Exxon Mobil Paid No U.S. Income Taxes In 2009 (UPDATED)

April 06, 2010 10:18 am ET — Chris Harris

Thanks to offshore tax havens and loopholes created by Big Oil lobbyists and their supporters in Congress, oil giant Exxon Mobil paid no income taxes to the U.S. government in 2009. 

As reported by Forbes:

Exxon tries to limit the tax pain with the help of 20 wholly owned subsidiaries domiciled in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands that (legally) shelter the cash flow from operations in the likes of Angola, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi. No wonder that of $15 billion in income taxes last year, Exxon paid none of it to Uncle Sam, and has tens of billions in earnings permanently reinvested overseas.

You read that correctly.  Despite reporting a gross operating profit of over $52 billion in 2009, Exxon paid no income tax to the federal government.

In fact, American middle class families pay more federal taxes on a single gallon of gasoline (18.4 cents) than Exxon Mobil paid in U.S. income taxes in all of 2009. 

When President Obama released a budget ending tax breaks for oil companies, the industry brazenly protested.  The American Petroleum Institute released a statement griping that "now is not the time to impose new taxes on the nation's oil and natural gas industry."

Even though Exxon doesn't contribute anything to the federal government, it spends millions of dollars trying to control it.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Exxon Mobil spent a whopping $27,430,000 on lobbying in 2009 alone. 


Exxon Mobil is contesting the original reporting from Forbes. In an email, Exxon Mobil spokesman Alan Jeffers wrote, "the Forbes story is incorrect when it says ExxonMobil did not pay any U.S. federal income taxes in 2009."

Jeffers continued:

In fact, we expect a significant U.S. federal income tax liability for 2009, although our tax return will not be filed until later this year.  Our tax installments overpaid our 2008 U.S. federal income taxes and we used that excess in part to pay our 2009 estimated taxes.

The bottom line is that it is not correct to say we did not pay any U.S. federal income tax in 2009.