Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Very Interesting: Chesapeake Energy's Incredibly Low Tax Payments

In case you missed it (as we did), Bloomberg News reported some amazing facts surrounding the Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corporation last week.

Here's the lead of the story, as published in the Tulsa World:
Chesapeake Energy Corp. made $5.5 billion in pretax profit since its founding more than two decades ago. So far, the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer has paid income taxes on almost none of it.
But wait, there's more. Bloomberg's analysis found that the company paid $53 million in taxes over its 23-year history, "or about 1 percent of the cumulative pretax profits during that period."

That's a pretty low tax burden, you'd think. We should all be so lucky.

And then there's this: "That's less than half of CEO Aubrey McClendon's compensation…in 2008 alone."

Amazing—and infuriating. The rich keep getting richer.

Bloomberg explains that Chesapeake's tax breaks are the result of a decades-old rule that allows the company to postpone taxes "in recognition of the inherent risk of drilling wells that may turn out to be dry."

Improved technology has lowered that risk drastically, so much so that Chesapeake struck oil or gas in 99.6 percent of its wells last year." Some risk.

Meanwhile, Chesapeake has lost more than $7 billion in market value in the past year and McClendon has been replaced as chairman of the company, Bloomberg reports.

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