Today, GE appeared to put out a press release noting that it had decided to do the right thing and pay the $6.3 billion taxes that it owed for 2010. And all the thanks it got was a quick drop in its stock price. If GE's paying the government, that's less money for shareholders. We can't have that.
Remember the story that GE paid no taxes last year—and in fact, got money back from the government—despite making $11 billion in revenues (though, as with all tax law, the story was maybe a little more complicated than that). Pick your jaw up off the floor, though—GE would never do the right thing. It was all a big hoax, even though you might have read about it in USA Today.
It was just another jab at corporate America from those culture-jamming rascals The Yes Men, who've made a career of afflicting the comfortable. They did it in partnership with US Uncut, who want the government to ban circumcision and/or to not cut the budget while corporations don't pay the taxes they should owe (see, for instance, Google's 2.4% corporate tax rate and the Double Irish).
Since GE got wind of the hoax, they've shut down the fake GE press site where the release appeared, and the AP has withdrawn the story. You can find all the information here on the Yes Men website, however. And the ripple effects continue. On news of the decision, GE's stock price plummeted, and has only begun to recover as news that GE will, in fact, keep duping the government began to trickle out. As US Uncut CEO Josh Gibson (quite possibly a fake name) wrote: "Obviously, GE can't possibly be expected to do the right thing voluntarily; their stock would keep plunging." The free market, so good and yet so frustrating.
GE's stock price before and after the hoax. Paying back doesn't pay.
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Top photo via Wayne_Parrack