MONOPOLY: Comcast Is Simply Too Big To Fail


REUTERS: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of Comcast Corp in an antitrust case over how much it charged cable TV subscribers, further curtailing the ability of people to pursue class action lawsuits. In a 5-4 decision, the court said a group of cable TV subscribers in the Philadelphia area who accused Comcast of overcharging them as part of an effort to monopolize the market could not sue as a group. MORE

CITY PAPER: Comcast may also benefit from evading the corporate state income tax. More than 1,000 Comcast subsidiaries and holding companies are registered in Delaware, the United States’ most popular on-shore tax haven. Though Pennsylvania corporate-tax payments are not public, Comcast paid an average nationwide corporate-income-tax rate of just 3.4 percent from 2008 to 2010, according to a 2011 study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The average state corporate-income-tax rate is 6 percent, and Pennsylvania’s rate is 9.99 percent.

Though business leaders complain about Pennsylvania’s second-highest-in-the-nation corporate-income tax, 73 percent of corporations operating in the state paid no corporate-income tax in 2010, according to Department of Revenue data. Harrisburg Republicans have resisted efforts to close the “Delaware Loophole” like mandating combined reporting of subsidiaries. Comcast has opposed combined reporting legislation in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and has spent $455,635 lobbying in Harrisburg since 2007, including on matters related to “taxation.” According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Comcast hired 46 Harrisburg lobbyists during 2011-’12 alone. “The fact that Comcast has been so prominent in seeking to prevent the state from enacting combined reporting is a strong indicator to me that they’re engaging in some kind of tax-sheltering activity that would be nullified by combined reporting,” says Michael Mazerov of the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Asked about the grants and tax credits the company received, a Comcast spokesperson referred CP to a June 2008 Econsult study, which found that the company and Comcast Center made more than $2 billion in total expenditures within Pennsylvania during construction, and paid $56 million in local and state taxes. The project created $1.6 billion in ongoing annual expenditures, and $70 million in state and local tax payments. The commonwealth, according to the study, reaped “more than six times its initial investment” in tax revenues. As a point of comparison: In 2011, chief executive Brian Roberts made $26.9 million. The majority of trips taken by one $40 million company jet over six months in 2010, according to a 2011 Wall Street Journal investigation, were to Martha’s Vineyard and Palm Beach, where Roberts has homes, and to other resorts. MORE