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Investigators: Enron taxes 'eye-popping'

Posted on 02/12/2003 10:26:10 PM PST by lewislynn

Feb. 12, 2003, 11:36PM

Investigators: Enron taxes 'eye-popping'

By DAVID IVANOVICH

Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Congressional investigators will reveal "eye-popping" details today about executive compensation practices at Enron Corp., as they walk lawmakers through the elaborate strategies the company used to manipulate its taxes and accounting, a key lawmaker said Wednesday.

Staff member from the Joint Committee on Taxation will present their findings from a yearlong examination of Enron's tax records to the Senate Finance Committee. These congressional tax experts were asked to determine whether Enron's Byzantine tax strategies were legal.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said he has been told by the staff the report will be an "absolute barn-burner."

"In addition to an eye-popping account of executive compensation, the report provides for the first time the complete story of Enron's efforts to manipulate its taxes and accounting," Grassley said at a confirmation hearing for two Bush nominees for seats on the U.S. Tax Court. "The report is very disturbing in its findings."

Finance committee staffers declined to provide further details about the report. Grassley has said lawmakers hope to use investigators' analysis of Enron's tax strategies to help shape future legislation aimed at curbing questionable tax practices.

A study by the watchdog group Citizens for Tax Justice found in January 2002 that Enron paid no federal taxes in 2000 and received a $278 million rebate on a tax break from stock options cashed in by employees.

The Washington-based group claims Enron avoided paying taxes in four of five years from 1996 to 2000, during which the company collected $381 million in tax refunds.

While Enron's financial reports reflect that it paid millions in taxes in recent years, the footnotes indicate the company used its network of offshore subsidiaries and stock-option deductions to reduce its tax liability to zero.

"The number that is featured, and is what most people see, bundled together all of the taxes they paid and didn't pay," said Robert McIntyre, who analyzed Enron's reports for Citizens for Tax Justice. "But when you get to the footnotes, you see that a lot of those taxes were paid to foreign governments and a lot of those taxes were deferred. You see that they did not include stock-option credits."

Enron received $382 million in tax refunds between 1996 and 2000 by taking advantage of stock-option deductions. In this strategy, when employees exercise stock options, the company can claim a tax deduction.

In addition, McIntyre's analysis indicates that Enron avoided paying some taxes by funneling profits through subsidiaries based in countries exempt from U.S. taxes.

The joint taxation committee's inquiry was among more than a dozen congressional investigations into Enron's collapse.

According to Enron's former top tax executive, Robert Hermann, the Houston-based company boosted its reported profits by another $1 billion or so by using tax schemes between 1995 and 2001. Hermann has defended the practices as legal.

Some experts say that even if that is the case, the complex transactions may have helped Enron paint a false picture of its financial situation and profits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government
KEYWORDS: enronlist
So tell me again about all the taxes those poor corporations are paying.
1 posted on 02/12/2003 10:26:10 PM PST by lewislynn
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To: lewislynn
If we had a national retail sales tax, we wouldn't need to worry about schemes like this.
2 posted on 02/12/2003 10:33:52 PM PST by TheConservator (Homines libenter quod volunt credunt.)
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To: lewislynn
What that article doesn't tell you is the deduction the corporation got for the stock options is treated as taxable compensation to the employees exercising them. In many cases the employee (particularly a highly compensated one) will pay taxes at a rate higher than the corporation would. 39.6% for the individual vs. 35% for the corporation.

Furthermore, even when corporations pay taxes, they don't pay them, their customers pay them.
3 posted on 02/12/2003 10:39:05 PM PST by Auntie Dem (Hey, hey, ho, ho. Terrorist lovers gotta go.)
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To: TheConservator
If we had a national retail sales tax, we wouldn't need to worry about schemes like this.

Yea right because all corporation's tax burdens would be shifted directly to you the consumer. It's becoming more and more obvious that Republicans aren't the party of less spending. Where else do you think the money would come from to fund the ever growing government scams?

4 posted on 02/12/2003 10:40:58 PM PST by lewislynn
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To: Auntie Dem
One more thing, the article uses incorrect terminology when it says Enron got a tax "rebate". There is no such thing as a corporate tax rebate, Enron received a refund of taxes they had paid in advance, and probably didn't even get any interest on it. In other words, the IRS had use of millions of Enron's money at no interest for nearly a year.

BTW, I'm no fan of Enron, or their greedy execs, but you can't trust a biased left-wing press to give you the truth about matters they know nothing about.
5 posted on 02/12/2003 10:44:04 PM PST by Auntie Dem (Hey, hey, ho, ho. Terrorist lovers gotta go.)
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To: Auntie Dem
. Furthermore, even when corporations pay taxes, they don't pay them, their customers pay them.

If that's the case the ultimate tax reform would be to eliminate taxes on all individuals and tax only corporations.

You've never had a business have you?

6 posted on 02/12/2003 10:47:59 PM PST by lewislynn
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To: lewislynn
There is no reason to worry.

A few payoffs and everything will be ok.

The crooked ones always seem to slip away without so much as a slap on the wrist.

A friend of a friend that knows the brother of the judge will take care of the whole situation.

Just have to wait until the public is tired of hearing about the whole thing and it stops being newsworthy.

Then it will just quietly fade away.

The ones that made millions will still have millions and the ones that lost everything will still have nothing.

And who said that money can't fix everything.

7 posted on 02/12/2003 10:51:09 PM PST by poorman
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To: Auntie Dem
you can't trust a biased left-wing press to give you the truth about matters they know nothing about.

So where do you get your information?

8 posted on 02/12/2003 10:53:41 PM PST by lewislynn
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To: lewislynn
If Big Stupid Government had gotten all that extra tax money from Enron, it would have just pissed it away anyway.

I'm never in favor of Big Stupid Government getting more loot. And I'll brook no "if they pay more, we pay less" crap. Everyone always pays more, as long as Big Stupid Government gets its way and American Revolution 2.0 continues to be postponed. The first one started with a 3% tax on tea. They steal a lot more than that now.

9 posted on 02/12/2003 10:55:03 PM PST by Hank Rearden (Bringing you grumpy bon mots since early '99. You're welcome.)
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To: Hank Rearden
If Big Stupid Government had gotten all that extra tax money from Enron, it would have just pissed it away anyway.

Does that mean we don't have to send them any too?

10 posted on 02/12/2003 11:04:20 PM PST by lewislynn
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To: lewislynn
All those evil corporations should pay all our taxes.
11 posted on 02/12/2003 11:07:32 PM PST by Moonman62
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To: Moonman62
All those evil corporations should pay all our taxes.

If it's us or them I'll take them. You of course would take us.

12 posted on 02/12/2003 11:14:55 PM PST by lewislynn
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To: *Enron_List
http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/bump-list
13 posted on 02/13/2003 5:40:47 AM PST by Free the USA (Stooge for the Rich)
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To: lewislynn
I am sure the media will try to paint President Bush as guilty in this along with Enron.

Just remember, Enron's criminal activities started and flourished during the Clinton administration, and the criminal actions were discovered and prosecuted during the Bush administration.
14 posted on 02/13/2003 7:14:24 AM PST by RJL
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To: lewislynn
I get my information from 32 years of work experience, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, a CPA license, and owning my own business, as well as having hands-on experience in small to medium-sized business accounting and tax departments, as well as 14 years inside the IRS where I examined the books and financial statements of thousands of businesses, big and small.

You know as well as I do that the media's reporting on Enron and its abuses is designed to embarass or implicate the Bush administration, even though all their fraud occurred during the Clinton watch. A fact they conveniently omit.

Do you REALLY think you don't pay a corporation's taxes when you buy their product? Here's a hint...they aren't using any of their money.

15 posted on 02/14/2003 1:40:24 PM PST by Auntie Dem (Hey, hey, ho, ho. Terrorist lovers gotta go.)
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To: lewislynn
.


VECTIGALIA NERVI SUNT REI PUBLICAE.



.
16 posted on 03/08/2003 12:19:33 PM PST by vannrox (The Preamble to the Bill of Rights - without it, our Bill of Rights is meaningless!)
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To: vannrox
OK. You sought me out, then spewed the same hieroglyphics on two different occaisons for no apparent reason....Am I supposed to understand your idiocy?
17 posted on 03/08/2003 2:26:06 PM PST by lewislynn
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To: lewislynn
"Taxes are the Snews of a Tyrant."
18 posted on 03/08/2003 6:23:14 PM PST by vannrox (The Preamble to the Bill of Rights - without it, our Bill of Rights is meaningless!)
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To: Auntie Dem
Do you REALLY think you don't pay a corporation's taxes when you buy their product? Here's a hint...they aren't using any of their money.

No... but the added expense of the passed-on tax artificially inflates the price of the purchased good or service, therefore artificially suppressing the buying power of the customer. The end result is that the customer would be able to spend more money on the company's product, if they didn't have to pay a chunk to the government.

Taxes suppress the market. Some taxes are made artificially high specifically for that purpose... excise taxes come to mind.

All of which you know, of course.

19 posted on 03/08/2003 6:36:11 PM PST by Oberon (This tagline intentionally left blank.)
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To: Auntie Dem
Do you REALLY think you don't pay a corporation's taxes when you buy their product?

All your experience aside. I can tell you I am a business and I, not you or anyone else pays my taxes...Who pays your taxes?

As an example, was there an immediate rise in transportation costs to offset the escalating price of fuel?...NO!...Will all companies raise their prices or will some absorb the cost in reduced profits?...The same is true of taxes.

If companies could automatically raise their prices for taxes, what's stopping them from raising them for no reason?

20 posted on 03/08/2003 11:13:40 PM PST by lewislynn
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To: lewislynn
If companies could automatically raise their prices for taxes, what's stopping them from raising them for no reason?

What stops them is the fundamental law of supply and demand. Almost every company raises their prices as high as the market will allow. Optimized pricing sometimes requires complex econometrics, but even small businesses practice the theory, by pricing a product, then if sales are slow having "sales" to discount the price to increase demand. Businesses that don't do this well go out of business.

You think that you pay your taxes because you have made the simple error of thinking your money belongs to you. The mere fact you earned the money doesn't make it yours--just ask the government.

21 posted on 03/09/2003 3:36:56 PM PST by Auntie Dem (Don't drag your bedroom into my living room.)
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To: lewislynn
Every tax is ultimately payed by a person. When you "tax" a corporation, it is paid by one of more of the customers (higher prices), employees (lower wages), or shareholders (lower profits).
22 posted on 03/09/2003 3:49:02 PM PST by ThinkDifferent
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