MSN Money: Facebook paid no income tax last year

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(Original Post)

While most of country is getting hit with higher taxes, the social-media giant got a pass -- and even got $429 million in refunds.

By Aimee Picchi

Taxes are said to be one of life's inevitabilities -- unless you're Facebook (FB -0.70%), which last year not only didn't pay a cent in federal or state income taxes, but actually will receive tax refunds of $429 million, according to a new report.

The reason? Even though Facebook made a pre-tax profit of $1.06 billion last year, it benefited from a tax break: the tax deductibility of executive stock options, the report from the Citizens for Tax Justice says.

That reduced Facebook's federal and state income taxes by $1.03 billion last year. But it also is carrying forward another $2.17 billion in additional tax-option tax breaks for use in future years, the report says. Altogether, that means Facebook will shave off a total of more than $3 billion in current and future taxes.

To be sure, Facebook isn't alone among big corporations in tapping strategies to lower their tax burdens. Among those businesses that have come under fire for avoiding taxes are General Electric (GE -0.39%), Boeing (BA +0.11%) and Goldman Sachs (GS -0.66%).

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, has sought to highlight the issue. In 2011, his office compiled a list of the worst corporate income tax avoiders, including Bank of America (BAC -0.66%) and Citigroup (C -1.04%).

"[T]he wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations must do their share to help bring down our record-breaking deficit," his office said in a 2011 statement.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment, according to The Huffington Post.

In the meantime, taxes for many individuals went up in 2013, making consumers feeling pinched.

On an after-tax basis, corporate profits have jumped since 2000, helped in part by strategies to minimize their tax burdens, according to the Huffington Post, citing data from the Commerce Department.