Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Following up on my prior post, Johnston: SC Johnson Cleans Up by Dodging Wisconsin Taxes
: PolitiFact Wisconsin, Inside the SC Johnson vs. David Cay Johnston Dispute on Corporate Taxes
When a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist bumped heads with S.C. Johnson, one of the nation’s largest private companies, the collision renewed a tax-fairness debate that flared with reports that General Electic had no U.S. tax bill despite billions in profits last year.
Reuters columnist David Cay Johnston questioned the corporate tax strategies he said allowed the company to avoid paying even one dollar of Wisconsin corporate income tax -- not just for one year, but nine years running.
One focus: A huge annual write-off of interest on a loan the Wisconsin-based company made to itself -- from its small Puerto Rico subsidiary, and later a Delaware subsidiary, to the parent company.
Punching back, S.C. Johnson -- a manufacturing giant in consumer products such as Windex and Ziploc and other popular brands -- denied any illegal or unethical actions. It accused the former New York Times tax reporter of sensational and inaccurate "gotcha" reporting.
In other words, it was Johnston vs. Johnson.
Here at PolitiFact Wisconsin, we can’t fully settle all the scores. But we thought it was worth sorting out fact and fiction in a dust-up that probably couldn’t have happened anywhere but Wisconsin.