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Entries tagged "CEO Pay"Page Previous 1 • 2 • 3 • 4
August 31, 2011 · By Chuck Collins
As the Super Congress eyes trillions in budget cuts that will undermine the quality of life for most Americans, here's a stunning fact to contemplate: 25 hugely profitable U.S. companies paid their CEOs more last year than they paid Uncle Sam in taxes.
In other words, the more CEOs dodge their civic responsibilities, the more lavishly they're paid. That's the key finding of a new Institute for Policy Studies report, Massive CEO Rewards for Tax Dodging, which I co-authored.
These artful dodgers include the CEOs of Verizon, Boeing, Honeywell, General Electric, International Paper, Prudential, eBay, Bank of New York Mellon, Ford, Motorola, Qwest Communications, Dow Chemical, and Stanley Black and Decker. Their average annual compensation totaled $16.7 million, well above last year's average of $10.8 million for the CEOs of S&P 500 companies.
Instead of paying their fair share, these companies spend millions lobbying for additional tax breaks and loopholes. Twenty of the 25 companies spent more lobbying Congress last year than they paid the IRS in federal corporate taxes. General Electric invested $41.8 million in lobbying and got $3.3 billion in tax refunds. Boeing spent $20 million on lobbying and got a $35 billion contract from the U.S. government, while paying a paltry $13 million in U.S. taxes for a company with $4.3 billion in U.S. income last year.
Eighteen of the 25 companies aggressively use off shore tax havens to shift profits around the globe to avoid U.S. taxes. These 18 companies together had 556 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, Singapore, Ireland, and other havens. The offshore scam works like this: companies pretend their profits are earned in low-tax or no-tax jurisdictions — and then feign losses from their U.S. operations at tax time.
Whatever happened to corporate civic leadership? A previous generation of CEOs would have been ashamed to be compensated so lavishly while their companies abandoned responsibility for paying their fair share. They would have been embarrassed to go year after year contributing little or nothing to the public investments that make the United States a vibrant business environment.
Here are a few examples of these champion tax-dodgers:
- Chesapeake Energy paid its CEO Aubrey McClendon $21 million last year but paid zero federal corporate income tax in 2010. Chesapeake is fracking the tax code, drilling it for every possible subsidy it can extract — while lobbying to preserve antiquated tax breaks for oil and gas industry.
- Online retailer eBay paid its CEO John Donahoe $21.4 million last year while collecting a federal tax refund of $131 million. eBay' 31 subsidiaries in Switzerland, Singapore, and seven other tax havens facilitate its efforts to move money around the planet as a tax-dodging strategy.
- Insurance brokerage Marsh & McLennan paid its CEO Brian Duperrault $14 million yet collected a $90 million tax refund from Uncle Sam. The company has 105 subsidiaries in 20 off shore tax havens, including 25 in Bermuda — a favorite locale for insurance companies seeking to avoid both taxes and regulation.
These super-moocher companies happily benefit from the privileges and advantages of doing business in the United States. If a competitor tries to steal their product or idea, these corporations rush to the U.S court system and law enforcement agencies for remedies and justice. The U.S. military guards their global assets.
They use the fertile ground of publicly funded research and infrastructure to bolster their own profits. They create new products from a foundation of Uncle Sam's investments in medical and scientific research and government funded technologies like the Internet. Our taxpayer-funded roads, ports, and bridges bolster their business environment. Our public schools and universities educate the workers these companies rely on. In fact 16 of these 25 CEOs attended public universities. They personally were educated with help from U.S. tax dollars.
These CEOs profess to love America. But when it comes time to pay the bills, they'd rather outsource that job over to you or the small business down the road.
Congress should pass the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act which would limit some of these tax shenanigans. In the face of growing fiscal austerity, these companies should contribute to the solution and pay their fair share of U.S. taxes.
Chuck Collins is a co-author of the new Institute for Policy Studies report, Executive Excess 2011: The Massive CEO Rewards for Tax Dodging.
April 19, 2011 · By Sam Pizzigati
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, for his annual efforts at the helm of America’s largest labor federation, makes four times the pay that goes to the federation’s typical employee.
Michael Jeffries, the CEO at national retail giant Abercrombie & Fitch, has been making close to 1,000 times the pay that goes to his typical employee. Shareholders at Abercrombie seem to feel their CEO makes too much.
Last April, in advisory “say on pay” balloting, these shareholders voted against Abercrombie’s executive pay plan. How did Abercrombie’s corporate directors respond? They moved quickly to show how much they feel their shareholder pain. The directors announced a stiff new limit on how much free personal travel CEO Jeffries can take on the Abercrombie jet.
In 2009, the value of this free personal travel perk topped over $800,000. Jeffries must now reimburse the company for any personal travel over $200,000.
Has a new day on CEO pay finally dawned in America’s corporate boardrooms? Not exactly, notes the just-released new 2011 edition of Pay Watch, the AFL-CIO’s energetically informative executive compensation Web site. Abercrombie CEO Jeffries did lose, the new Pay Watch points out, over a half-million in corporate jet perks. But the Abercrombie board, in exchange for the perk limit, agreed to up the total Jeffries take-home by an additional $4 million!
Incredibly revealing anecdotes like this Abercrombie outrage abound in the new AFL-CIO Pay Watch, the best one yet. But Pay Watch does an equally effective job placing these anecdotes in a broader perspective — and, in the process, thoroughly debunks the rationalizations for excessive executive pay that spout regularly from the lips of CEOs and their handlers.
Does current CEO compensation truly reflect, as these handlers love to claim, “pay for performance”? Over the last decade, the new Pay Watch observes, “CEOs of the largest American companies received more in compensation than ever before in U.S. history.” Yet corporate share prices ended 2010 19 percent off their year 2000 high.
The new Pay Watch’s most vital contribution to the ongoing debate over executive pay? That may well be the site’s sublime interactivity.
You can compare, on Pay Watch, how many years you would have to work to match what the CEO at your workplace makes in just one. And you can contrast the pay of superstar CEOs with an assortment of take-homes elsewhere in the American economy — and share the results, for the first time ever, through an innovative Pay Watch Facebook app.
And the pages of Pay Watch don’t just inform us. They couple information with a variety of action steps we can take to advance a meaningful CEO pay reform agenda.
High on that agenda: the campaign to protect the Dodd-Frank financial reform law provision enacted last summer that requires all major companies to disclose the pay gap between their CEOs and their workers. Corporate America is currently trying to gut this new disclosure mandate, by sabotaging the regulations supposed to enforce it.
Disclosure remains the first step to meaningful CEO pay reform. This week’s edition of Too Much, our IPS weekly email newsletter on excess and inequality, spotlights a brand-new reform proposal — from Harvard economist Richard Freeman — that builds on this disclosure. Not on the mailing list for Too Much? You can sign up here to subscribe.
September 21, 2010 · By Kevin Shih
In an election year in which voters are concerned with the record high unemployment numbers and the lack of a robust economic recovery, candidates around the country are using all they can to taint their opposing candidates’ economic records.
In California’s heated Senate race, both incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer (D) and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina have used Executive Excess reports to attack one another. The Institute for Policy Studies has published these annual reports on CEO pay for 17 years.
As the advertisement points out, we found that Fiorina laid off 25,700 workers in 2001, and then saw her pay jump 231 percent, from $1.2 million in 2001 to $4.1 million in 2002. Whereas previous HP heads had strived to avoid layoffs, IPS pay analyst Sarah Anderson described Fiorina as “like the Annie Oakley of the corporate world, coming in with her guns blazing.” Whether the layoffs directly led to her salary jump is unclear. However, it is obvious that Fiorina was a CEO that has put her own interests before her employees’ wellbeing, whether she would continue that management style if she becomes an U.S. Senator is something that no one can say for sure.
Fiorina, on the other hand, has cited our 2010 Executive Excess Report, CEOs and the Great Recession, on her website. She makes the claim that Senator Boxer has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Bank of America, Verizon, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Boeing and Microsoft—companies that have outsourced jobs and laid off workers since the beginning of our current economic recession.
Assuming that the website has correctly cited The Center for Responsive Politics, it is true that these companies that are funding Boxer’s campaign are among the top 50 “layoff leaders” in this recession. From this, you could argue that Boxer supports and is being supported by corporations that have laid off workers and have shipped workers overseas.
But unlike Fiorina during her axe-wielding days at HP, Boxer wasn’t the one directly responsible for mass layoffs. Moreover, if you look at Boxer’s legislative record, the claim that she doesn’t support “Made in America” jobs creation is dubious. For one thing, she did support the $787 billion Recovery Act that has significantly helped lower the unemployment rate in the United States. So is Senator Boxer really a candidate that doesn’t believe in domestic job creation? It is hard to say…what do you think?
One thing we do know for sure is this: Job creation and reining in corporate executive excess are two very important issues that voters care about, which is evident from the heavy circulation and citation of our Executive Excess reports in one of the most heated electoral battles during the 2010 midterms. We are glad that both senatorial candidates are concerned with these issues. We just hope that whoever wins the election will take a look at our legislative score card at the end of our 2010 report (it starts on page 13) and actually start championing some of the legislative proposals that would rein in executive corporate excess.
September 1, 2010 · By Kevin Shih
Over 15 million workers were fired from their jobs from January 2007 through December 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Keep that in mind while looking at these numbers from IPS’s just-released 17th annual Executive Excess Report, CEO Pay and the Great Recession:
- Fred Hassan, the ex-CEO of Schering-Plough, received a $33 million golden parachute when his firm merged with Merck in late 2009. The merger led to 16,000 workers being fired.
- William Weldon of Johnson & Johnson took home $25.6 million, more than three times as much as the S&P 500 CEO average, at a time when his firm slashed 9,000 jobs and while the company was facing a massive drug recall scandal.
- Mark Hurd of Hewlett-Packard, currently famous for failing to cover up a relationship with a contractor/erotic film star, has been awarded $24.2 million for laying off 6,400 workers. On top of that, he received an additional $28 million in severance.
These two sets of data illustrate a pretty dire picture, especially at a time when we are experiencing record unemployment. Both the government and the private sector are unwilling to take sufficient measures to put Americans back to work. The federal government is moving away from job-creating stimulus to supposedly austere measures, like cutting much needed social safety net programs (see here for an obvious example). The private sector, on the other hand, is making record short-term profits by eliminating jobs—furthering the income gap between the rich and the poor, while also significantly decreasing the consumption and taxpaying power of regular workers.
CEO Pay and the Great Recession is a report we released today that illustrates this irresponsible behavior in the corporate sector. According to the report, the 50 top CEOs that have laid off the most workers in 2009 received $12 million on average, while the S&P 500 companies have earned around $8.5 million on average.
Some additional key findings:
- Five of the 50 top layoff leaders were recipients of major financial bailouts. Of these, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault took home the highest 2009 pay, $16.8 million, including a $5 million cash bonus. American Express has laid off 4,000 employees since receiving $3.4 billion in taxpayer bailout funds.
- The $598 million combined compensation of the top 50 CEO layoff leaders could provide average unemployment benefits to 37,759 workers for an entire year — or nearly a month of benefits for each of the 531,363 workers their companies laid off.
At a time when we're experiencing the worst economic crisis in the past 80 years, CEOs who slash jobs should have to tighten their own belts, not just so they’re in line with today’s S&P norm, but moving towards CEO pay levels in previous decades when the U.S. economy was more stable. This is a move that is necessary to establish robust sustainable economic growth. It would also help prevent future economic crises like the one we are experiencing today.
June 21, 2010 · By Jennifer Doak
"Conservatives have declared a new class war, but it's not on bankers earning seven-figure bonuses," even though "[a] recent study [finds] that when such factors as education and work experience are accounted for, state and local employees earn 11 to 12 percent less than comparable private sector workers…By attacking public workers, they can demonize "big labor" and "big government" at the same time, while deflecting attention from the more logical target of Middle America's rage: the irresponsible Wall Street traders, whose risky, high-profit business practices brought down the economy, and the lax regulators who let them get away with it." (The Nation) If GOP senators are saying this, maybe they should volunteer to have their salaries cut first?
"It's as if the Earth has been smoking two packs a day," say the authors of a new Australian report on the decline of our oceans. (Scientific American)
The Guardian interviews Story of Stuff's Annie Leonard (with whom we collaborated on the Story of Cap and Trade) on her new book:"If you're going to vote with your dollar that's fine," Leonard says. "But you need to remember that Exxon has a lot more dollars than you. We need to vote with our votes; re-engage with the political process and change the balance of power so that those who are looking out for the wellbeing of the planet dominate, instead of those who are just looking out for the bottom line."
But if you think the situation in the Gulf is bad, take a look at the Niger Delta. By IPS board member Ethelbert Miller, in the FPIF Focal Points blog. You can also go to Niger Delta Rising for more background.