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Wells Fargo leads list of 30 companies paying less than nothing in taxes

Wells Fargo & Co. tops the list of companies receiving the largest tax breaks since 2008, according to a joint study from Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Wells Fargo is one of 30 companies that paid less than nothing in federal corporate income taxes since 2008, according to the report. The company posted over $49 billion in profits in that period but had an effective tax rate of -1.4 percent, meaning it made more after taxes than before.

The report found that amounts to $18 billion in tax subsidies over the last three years, with the company paying -$681 million in taxes.

Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, has its main office in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The study looked at federal income taxes paid by 280 of America’s largest and most profitable corporations in 2008, 2009 and 2010. All of the companies are on Fortune Magazine’s annual list of America’s 500 largest corporations.

It found the companies reported profits of $1.4 trillion over that period, and should have paid $473 billion in income taxes, based on the 35 percent corporate tax rate. But tax subsidies over that time totaled $222.7 billion.

Of the 280 companies, 71 paid a tax rate near 35 percent; 67 paid rates less than 10 percent; and 30 paid rates less than 0 percent, in some cases actually receiving checks from the government.

A report issued last week found Wells Fargo & Co. is one of the top 10 transparent and accountable companies in the S&P 100 when it comes to political spending. It and other companies were ranked based on 29 different indicators to gauge disclosure, policies, compliance and oversight.

On Saturday it will be one of two national banks targeted by members of the Occupy movement as part of “National Bank Transfer Day.” The initiative aims to convince Americans to move their money from the larger banks and into “more responsible, community-driven financial institutions.”

In Denver, occupiers will vacate Civic Center Park this weekend in order to honor veterans, who will use the park for the start of a Veterans’ Day parade.

Occupy Denver will reestablish its Occupation at Skyline Park on 16th Street Mall, directly across from the Denver Federal Reserve building, and has planned a series of actions for Saturday to coincide with the bank boycott known as Bank Transfer Day, in which customers are urged to close their accounts with what occupiers refer to as “predatory” financial institutions like Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Chase, and redeposit their funds into their local credit unions.

Occupy Denver member Mitch Shenassa explains, “The Occupation has deliberately chosen the space across from the Federal Reserve as its temporary site to bring attention to the economic dangers posed by this independent central bank and its short-sighted fractional reserve banking system that cause the devaluation of our currency and the ballooning of our national debt.”

Saturday’s Occupy Denver march will begin at the Federal Reserve, 1020 16th Street, and proceed to a number of Denver banks.

Scot Kersgaard contributed to this article.

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