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James McNerney, who was CEO of Boeing. Photograph by Simon Dawson — Bloomberg/Getty Images

These 7 companies spent more on CEO pay than federal taxes

Nov 19, 2014

Seven of the country's 30 largest corporations doled out more to their chief executives last year than to Uncle Sam.

These seven firms reported more than $74 billion in profits last year and received a combined total of $1.9 billion in refunds from the Internal Revenue Service, according to a study, giving them an effective tax rate of negative 2.5%.

The findings are part of a report from the Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies. The two Washington, D.C., think tanks have published an annual study called “Fleecing Uncle Sam,” which looks at CEO salaries and corporate taxes, since 2010.

The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35.3%, according to federal law. The reality is that most large corporations' pay a far lower rate. Large American companies pay an effective corporate tax rate closer to 12.6%, according to the Government Accountability Office. Essentially, a host of items can lower a corporate tax bill, such as write-offs for research and development costs, or the depreciation of buildings and equipment.

As firms find ways around big tax burdens, the rift between what they pay the federal government and what they pay their top executives has been widening. The average compensation paid to CEOs that the study singles out has climbed to almost $32 million from $16.7 million in 2010.

Here are seven corporations that paid their CEOs more than the U.S. government in 2013 (the numbers below were compiled by the study's co-authors).

1. Boeing

Boeing (ba) pre-tax income: $5.95 billion
CEO James McNerney total pay: $23.3 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of $82 million

2. Ford Motors

Ford (f) pre-tax income: $6.52 billion
CEO Alan Mulally total pay: $23.2 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of $19 million

3. Chevron

Chevron (cvx) pre-tax income: $4.67 billion
CEO John Watson total pay: $20.2 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: $15 million

4. Citigroup

Citigroup (c) pre-tax income: $6.4 billion
CEO Michael Corbat total pay: $17.6 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of $260 million

5. Verizon

Verizon (vz) pre-tax income: $28.83 billion
CEO Lowell McAdam total pay: $15.8 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of $197 million

6. JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan (jpm) pre-tax income: $17.23 billion
CEO Jamie Dimon total pay: $11.8 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of $1.3 billion

7. General Motors

GM (gm) pre-tax income: $4.88 billion
CEO Daniel Ackerson total pay: $9.1 million
U.S. corporate income tax total: refund of $34 million

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