GE chief defends company's zero tax bill

jeffrey_immelt.gi.top.jpgGE CEO Jeff Immelt speaking Thursday at the Economic Club in Washington. By Jennifer Liberto, senior writer


WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- The chief of General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) on Thursday defended the conglomerate's zero tax rate in 2010, and called for reform of the U.S. tax code.

In his first public speaking engagement since a barrage of criticism about not having to pay taxes in 2010, GE chief executive Jeff Immelt told the Economic Club in Washington that his company did nothing wrong.

"At GE, we do like to keep our tax rate low, but we do it in a compliant way, and there are no exceptions," Immelt said. "Our tax rate will be much higher in 2011 as GE Capital recovers."

But Immelt added that he, along with many other corporate leaders, wants the federal government to reform the U.S. tax code, which he called "old, complex and uncompetitive."

Immelt also pointed out that over the past five years GE has paid $14 billion in taxes. He said that even though GE made money in 2010, "we didn't make a lot of that in the U.S."

The company is particularly in the spotlight because Immelt also serves as the chief of President Obama's innovation and jobs council. When asked what he thought of criticism that GE isn't a good role model and shouldn't be leading the jobs council, Immelt said he was committed to helping the president build jobs.

"I'm completely committed to doing this job and working with the president and building jobs in the U.S.," Immelt said.

Later, in an interview with the media after his speech, when asked what GE was doing to help job growth, he said the company expects to have hired 16,000 new employees this year and last year, mostly in manufacturing and high tech services industries.

Immelt said he understands why his company is taking heat in the media.

"I don't fault this type of reporting," Immelt said. "It is what it is. You can't do any job like this unless you have a thick skin." To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,774.43 96.53 0.58%
Nasdaq 4,472.90 20.11 0.45%
S&P 500 1,961.40 10.58 0.54%
Treasuries 2.27 -0.01 -0.40%
Data as of 11:46am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Microsoft Corp 45.66 0.64 1.42%
Ford Motor Co 13.80 -0.60 -4.13%
Apple Inc 104.85 0.02 0.02%
Bank of America Corp... 16.63 0.03 0.18%
Yahoo! Inc 43.16 0.55 1.30%
Data as of 11:31am ET

Sections

Wall Street is tired of Amazon losing money. Investors want Jeff Bezos to be more focused and disciplined with the company's long-term investments. More

Regulators are about to reveal the results of an extensive health check of Europe's top 130 banks, indicating which may need a cash infusion. More

Wall Street is tired of Amazon losing money. Investors want Jeff Bezos to be more focused and disciplined with the company's long-term investments. More

Using technology developed for the military and implemented in Iraq, schools have installed alarm systems that detect gunfire. More

Big purchases often come with big expectations. So it's no wonder that in a recent survey 80% of homebuyers said they regretted at least one thing about their home. Here are ways to improve those odds. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.