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Study: Some companies pay more to their own CEOs than to Uncle Sam

Businessman with $100 bills in suit jacket pocket.

Steve Chiotakis: A new study shows dozens of major U.S. companies pay more in salaries to their CEOs than they pay in total corporate taxes.

Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports.


Eve Troeh: The Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal-leaning think tank, looked at the hundred most profitable companies in the U.S. and found 25 of them pay CEO salaries that total more than their tax bill. Study author Scott Klinger says the government invests in corporations through things like educating the American workforce, maintaining highways.

Scott Klinger: And we think companies should pay their fair share. They certainly have the money to pay their CEOs quite a bit.

The reports targets big names like Boeing, GE and Dow Chemical, pointing out how they shelter profits from taxes with offshore accounts or aggressively lobby for certain tax breaks. The study points out GE's CEO Jeff Immelt made $15.2 million last year, and GE didn't pay any taxes. It got a $3.3 billion refund.

Klinger says the tax rules for families and small business owners simply don't apply to corporations.

Klinger: These corporations say, Oh I had a bad year a couple of years ago, and I'm making billions now, but I shouldn't have to pay taxes now.

The study also shows that CEO pay has risen. CEOs now make 325 times the salary of the average U.S. worker. That's up almost 30 percent in the past two years.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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