Companies claimed the $8.2 billion in benefits under two CARES Act provisions. The tax-law change did little for the nearly 60,000 workers those companies fired.
Last year was $8.2 billion less painful for 77 big fossil fuel companies, thanks to a tax bailout provision in a big pandemic stimulus bill, leaving nearly 60,000 workers stretching the $1,200 checks they received under the same law.
The tax-law change did little, however, for the nearly 60,000 workers those companies fired, leaving them stretching the $1,200 checks they received under the same law. Individuals were not eligible for the CARES Act loophole, which allows big polluters to reduce past taxes owed based on their recent yearly losses.
As Washington debates ending tax subsidies for fossil fuels, part of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, fossil fuel companies are quietly reporting their employee headcounts and final tax bills for 2020. The data underscore the hypocrisy of claims that fossil fuels are a necessary engine of employment and succeed on an equal playing field in the free market.
A BailoutWatch analysis of public filings by companies primarily involved in oil, gas and coal finds:
- Seventy-seven companies pocketed $8.24 billion as a result of tax-law changes in the CARES Act stimulus law.
- Payrolls were cut by a net 58,030 jobs at 74 of the companies that reported employee headcounts for the end of 2019 and 2020.
- The 62 companies that laid off workers collected $7.65 billion through the tax bailout — about $131,000 for each of the 58,488 people they left jobless.
- Five companies filed for bankruptcy protection after receiving $308.7 million in tax bailouts and laying off a total of 5,683 workers.
The bailouts are the tip of a much bigger iceberg: Fossil fuels have long benefited from a trove of tax-code provisions. In the century since they emerged, the coal, oil and gas industries’ strength has reflected not market efficiencies, as defenders claim, but government largesse that far exceeds what has so far been extended to the clean energy sector. This includes tax deductions for intangible drilling costs and depletion of in-ground fuel reserves, as well as the billions in bailout benefits disbursed under the CARES Act.