TARP Corps. Owe More Than $220M in Back Taxes

The 13 companies that got the most TARP money owe $222M in back taxes.

ByABC News
March 19, 2009, 12:04 PM

March 19, 2009— -- At least 13 companies who have received some of the $300 billion in TARP funds owe hundreds of millions of dollars in back taxes, it was revealed today.

Two of the companies owe more than $100 million in taxes, said Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight.

Altogether, the 13 companies owed the government more than $220 million in unpaid taxes, he said.

"This is shameful. It is a disgrace," Lewis said at the beginning of a hearing into how the TARP money is being spent.

Lewis' committee discovered the unpaid taxes in a review of tax records from 23 of the firms receiving the most money, Lewis said.

"If we looked at all 470 recipients, how much would they owe?" Lewis asked.

He didn't identify the companies or indicate how much TARP money they have received. But some of the corporations that have received the largest chunks of TARP cash include AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, General Motors and Chrysler.

So far, Treasury has allocated $300 billion of the TARP money that was authorized by the Bush administration. It is preparing to allocate a second $300 billion by the Obama administration.

The Georgia lawmaker said the subcommittee learned of the unpaid taxes from IRS records. He said these firms were required to sign contracts that they did not have any unpaid taxes, but the Treasury Department never requested the tax records.

"This entire program is based on trust -- trust in the giver and trust in the taker," Lewis said.

Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for TARP, told the hearing he plans on discussing the unpaid taxes with the Office of Financial Stability "to remedy the situation."

If an executive knowingly signed the contracts knowing that their statement on taxes was false, "that would potentially be a crime," Barofsky said. "We are going to look very heavily into this."

The issue of companies that owe millions in taxes getting massive amounts of federal help is the latest in a series of issues that have embroiled federal attempts to bail out the economy.

Companies have been forced by public outrage and federal pressure to cancel lavish corporate retreats and limit or eliminate executive bonuses. Outrage over bonuses have embroiled the beleaguered insurance giant AIG.