Was Exxon Mobil's Tax Rate Last Year Really -5.1%?

Just as the GOP introduced its plan to slash the corporate tax rate, a new report shows that Irving-based Exxon Mobil had a negative tax rate for 2016 and a refund due of $406 million. That negative tax rate was the second-lowest in the S&P 100, according to the WalletHub report.The -5.09 rate fell just behind General Electric's -5.14 percent. But ask Exxon officials, and they'll say they had a 13 percent tax rate last year. That's well below the U.S. top rate of 35 percent but still far from negative territory.So, who's right?"They are both correct," said Matt Gardner, senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. "They're just measuring different things."Tax breaks, financial reporting rules and differing tax rates around the world make looking at these numbers a tricky business. In fact, both experts interviewed by The Dallas Morning News on Thursday used the word "goofy" to describe some results when corporate tax rates are calculated.Politicians and economists have long been concerned about the U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent, one of the world's highest. The GOP plan to overhaul tax law would cut that to 20 percent as President Donald Trump had requested. Companies, however, don't always pay rates in that 35 percent range.The WalletHub study released this week highlights the top five and bottom five corporate tax rates, using information from 2016 financial filings.Heavy machinery company Caterpillar reported the highest tax rate: 138.1 percent. Both experts agreed that really doesn't reflect the company's actual tax rate. The extreme rates at the top and bottom could be partly blamed on old deals, low oil prices and paperwork.EXXON  Continue reading...

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