Letter: Shed no tears for big oil

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Justin Brownwell asks us to “do the math” on the taxes that companies like ExxonMobil pay (“U.S. needs stronger energy policy,” May 25). There are many ways to calculate corporate profit and taxes, some more self-serving than others. Mr. Brownwell seems to have relied on Exxon’s own calculations, which help portray the company as the aggrieved victim of burdensome taxation.

ExxonMobil earned $30.5 billion in 2010, a 57 percent increase from the previous year. Independent analysts put the company’s federal income tax rate at just 17.2 percent – far lower than what most Brunswick residents pay to Uncle Sam. Yet ExxonMobil is the largest publicly traded corporation in the world, and among the most profitable. Like all of us, it has an obligation to support the collective good through taxation. Unlike the rest of us, though, the government regularly bestows on it an unfair advantage in the form of huge federal subsidies. Last year, the five biggest oil companies posted record profits of $137 billion, and received $4 billion in taxpayer-financed tax credits. The question, then, is not why these companies pay so much, but why they don’t pay what regular Americans pay. It’s not like they need it to stay afloat.

Frankly, when so many hard-working Americans are struggling to do just that, it is beyond me how anyone can manage to shed tears for corporations like ExxonMobil. I’ll save mine for the employees whose jobs they outsourced.

Patrick Rael