AP Pranked by Hoax Press Release Saying GE Will Repay its $3.2 Billion Tax Break

GE logoThe Associated Press published a story based on a fake, emailed press release that said General Electric would respond to criticism over the amount of taxes it avoids by repaying its entire $3.2 billion tax refund for 2010 to the U.S. Treasury Department. Both the press release and AP's story said GE would repay its tax refund on April 18, that the company would phase out its tax havens over five years and start providing one job in the U.S. for every new job it creates overseas. The hoax release quoted GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as saying, “All seven of our foreign tax havens are entirely legal ... but Americans have made it clear that they deplore laws that enable tax avoidance. While we owe it to our shareholders to use every legal loophole to maximize returns -- we also owe something to the American people. We didn't write the laws that let us legally avoid paying taxes. Congress did. But we benefit from those laws, and now we'd like to share those benefits. We are proud to be giving something back to America, and we are proud to set an example for all industry to follow.” President Obama appointed Immelt as chairman of his outside panel of economic advisers on January 21, 2011. AP failed to verify the information in the release and withdrew its story 35 minutes after its publication. Two groups took responsibility for the hoax: the Yes Men and U.S. Uncut, saying they did it to raise awareness of U.S. corporate tax policy.


on Dow Chemical purporting to announce that Dow would compensate the victims of the Bhopal disaster, it forced Dow to state publicly that it wasn't going to do that.

I'm guessing that this time they were trying to force GE to make a similar public admission about that $3.2 billion. Apparently AP retracted the story too soon for that. All the same, not a bad score. :-)

I thought the same thing at first, but it could also easily be someone inspired by their work. They did something similar with rebuilding of government-funded housing in Louisiana the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as well.

In fact, this was the work of a collaboration between an activist group called US Uncut (USuncut.org) and the Yes Lab (Yes Men). US Uncut is a grassroots movement that aims at corporate tax evasion, arguing that if corporations didn't dodge their taxes, there would be no need for public spending cuts. Two-thirds of American corporations pay zero in taxes, according to a 2008 congressional report.

And GE *did* put out a statement, but unlike Dow's this one further distorted the truth. See here: http://www.thenation.com/blog/159931/yes-men-us-uncut-behind-ge-hoax