Want to know how GE paid $0 income taxes? Think green. 

General Electric, the company which spends more on U.S. lobbying than any other company, plans to build the largest solar-panel-aking factory in the U.S., the New York Times reports. Like almost all of GE's "ecomagination" undertakings, this solar plant will need subsidies in order to be profitable.

Some of those subsidies will be indirect or passive -- like renewable energy standards that force utilities to buy electricity from less efficient sources like wind and solar. Some of those subsidies will be direct. The Times dedicates only two sentence to the subsidy aspect of this solar installation. Here's the key one: "G.E. said it was not applying for a loan guarantee but was exploring applying for state and federal manufacturing tax credits."

Tax credits. There are plenty of tax credits for "green energy," including the stimulus-created Investment Tax Credit, which pays companies for investing in green energy (literally pays, the "credit" is immediate, and in the form of a deposit or a check).

GE is a leading investor in solar, wind, and greenhouse gas permits. I don't know how many tax credits it gets for these "green investments," but they go part of the way to explaining why GE is paying zero federal income tax for last year.

So if liberals like Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold are upset that GE isn't paying enough taxes, maybe its time to end all these tax credits.

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Timothy P. Carney

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