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The U.S. tax system, according to GE

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: America's largest corporation, General Electric, paid nothing in taxes for last year. Despite making more than $5 billion with its American operations. In fact, the New York Times reports GE claimed a tax benefit.

David Kocieniewski wrote today's story for the Times and he's with us from New York. Good morning.

DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

CHIOTAKIS: You're welcome. How does GE get out of paying taxes?

KOCIENIEWSKI: The tax code is incredibly complex, but GE has the advantage of having a lot of input in the way that the tax code is written. Everything they do is in keeping with the lay, but I think you have to keep in mind that there are lobbyists that they've spend $200 million on in the past 10 years, helped to write many of those laws that directly benefits a company.

CHIOTAKIS: Is it any different from what other major corporations are doing? They have lobbiests too, right?

KOCIENIEWSKI: They do, but GE is generally regarded as the most effective and a lot of them come straight out of government. So they come from making the policy for government to make a policy for a company.

CHIOTAKIS: You know, the CEO, Jeff Immelt is part of President Obama's economic team. Does this put the president in sort of a tough spot?

KOCIENIEWSKI: I think there is a contradiction. If you look at what the President said during his State of the Union speech, he said, you know we need to reform corporate taxes because there's these companies with lobbyists and lawyers who write the rules and end up paying almost no taxes and then everyone else pays a high tax rate. Within a matter of a week or two he was there with Mr. Immelt and GE's tax situation speaks for itself. So they've never really resolved that contradiction..

CHIOTAKIS: All right David Kocieniewski reporter for the New York Times. David thank you.

KOCIENIEWSKI: Thank you.

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