You are hereCharlotte Observer: No federal tax expense for Bank of America

Charlotte Observer: No federal tax expense for Bank of America

Charlotte-based bank shows loss for 2010, reports tax 'benefit' of almost $1 billion.

March 25, 2011- After another money-losing year, Bank of America Corp. got the upper hand with Uncle Sam in 2010.

The Charlotte-based bank had no federal income tax expense for a second straight year and actually reported a tax "benefit" of nearly $1 billion. Also, the bank's billions in accumulated losses could reduce its taxes in future years, a tax expert said.

The bank says the reason is simple: Corporations pay taxes on their profits, and Bank of America posted a pre-tax loss of $5.4 billion in the U.S. in 2010.

"Bank of America takes its role as a corporate citizen very seriously, and pays taxes in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations," bank spokesman Jerry Dubrowski said.

That doesn't satisfy a group that has been staging protests at Bank of America branches around the country and crashed the bank's New York investor conference this month. The bank is an "aggressive tax dodger," said Ryan Clayton, a Washington-based organizer of U.S. Uncut. "We pay our taxes. Why don't they?"

Clayton's group suggests Bank of America and other large U.S. companies are using subsidiaries in offshore tax havens to eliminate their taxes.

Bank of America and other companies do avoid paying taxes on profits they make in overseas operations by reinvesting these proceeds overseas, instead of bringing them back home. Some business leaders recently have called for a lower tax rate on these earnings, a move they contend would encourage companies to bring these profits to the U.S.

Corporate tax returns aren't public, so it's not apparent what companies actually pay in taxes or receive in rebates. But each year companies in their annual reports provide information on the income tax "expense" or "benefit" they recorded in their financial statements. These numbers do show the bottom-line impact. An expense reduces net income for the year; a benefit adds to net income.

In 2010, Bank of America reported a federal income tax benefit of $953 million. But the bank did have an expense for state, local and foreign income taxes: about $1.9 billion. That means, combined, the bank had a total tax expense of $915 million last year.



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