Salesforce, AT&T, Motorola, and AMD are four tech companies in a group most CEOs would love to belong to, but most public relations departments would hate.
The American taxpayer? She might hate it too.
The Institute for Policy Studies released a report this morning on 26 companies that pay their executives more than the entire corporation pays the U.S. government in taxes. The problem? Tax code structures that encourage high executive pay by allowing deductions for performance-based pay, for one.
The 26 firms, which have 537 foreign subsidiaries in tax havens like Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and Gibraltar, each had an average of more than $1 billion in pre-tax income … and tax benefits averaging $163 million. And IPS estimates the four biggest direct tax subsidies cost taxpayers over $14 billion a year.
AMD paid chief executive Rory P. Read $15.6 million while paying negative $3 million in taxes (if only we all could pay negative taxes). AT&T paid Randall Stephenson $18.7 million while collecting a sweet tax check of negative $420 million. And Google’s new pet, Motorola, must have some good accountants: The company shows up on the list not once but twice.
Motorola Mobility showed up for CEO Sanjay Jha, paying him a whopping $47 million while paying precisely zero, zilch, and nada in U.S. corporate income tax. Of course, the company lost half a billion dollars in 2011: You need talented people to lose that much in just 12 months. And Motorola Solutions — the part of the original Motorola that Google did not buy — tossed Gregory Brown a relatively paltry $29.3 million while paying taxes of just $2 million.
It’s kind of what we said last week: In the income battle between the CEO and you, you’re not winning.
The full list: