Exxon Q1: Who's Not Paying Fair Share of Taxes and Who's Ripe for Windfall Profit Tax? (Guest Post)
ExxonMobil reported its first quarter 2011 earnings on April 28, which came in at $10.65 billion, an increase of 69% from the same quarter last year when it earned $6.3 billion. While the huge earnings amount captured all of the media attention, several other items received much less attention (see chart):
ExxonMobil paid $8 billion in income taxes to various governments in the first quarter, which is about $22 million in income taxes each day, or almost $1 million each hour.
Compared to the first quarter last year, ExxonMobil increased its output of oil and natural gas by 10%, and a large part of that increased output came from a 192% increase in natural gas production in the United States, thanks to new advanced drilling technologies like hydraulic fracturing.
While higher oil prices certainly played a major role in increasing Exxon's profits, the role of increased output shouldn't be ignored. And we shouldn't forget that retail natural gas prices in the United States, adjusted for inflation, are the lowest now since December 2002, in large part due to increased domestic production from companies like Exxon.
Dwarfing Exxon's first quarter profits of $10.65 billion, are the total taxes paid or collected around the world by Exxon from January to March, which totaled to$26.2 billion and include $8 billion in income taxes, $10.3 billion in sales-based taxes, and $10.3 billion for all other taxes including property taxes, etc.
Exxon Mobil paid $8 billion in income taxes in the first quarter on $18.9 billion of income, which translates into a 42.3% effective income tax rate on its income. And yet according to Obama and others, oil companies "aren't paying their fair share of taxes," and should be taxed more?
The 6.1% average profit margin for Exxon's industry "Major Integrated Oil and Gas" ranks #112 among all industries for the most recent quarter (data here), so if Obama wants to target 'excessive' corporate profits, there are many other industries much more profitable than the oil and gas industry.
For example, the surge in commodity prices has resulted in "windfall profit" margins of 31% for the silver industry, 23% for the copper industry and 19.8% for the gold industry. Internet providers are capturing 23% in profit margins, cigarette companies more than 21% and periodical publishers are earning a whopping 51.6% profit margin, so perhaps those would be ripe targets for Obama's new lust to confiscate "windfall profits."
The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.
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