Big Oil scores $1.5 billion in COVID tax scam

Big Oil scores $1.5 billion in COVID tax scam

12 polluters report massive stimulus giveaways in first quarter filings

WASHINGTON– Big Oil is reaping major benefits from the large corporate tax cuts that were passed as part of the coronavirus stimulus. According to a review of over 40 quarterly filings, at least 12 oil and gas companies are expected to claim a total $1.5 billion in tax breaks. This windfall is due primarily to changes to net operating losses and the alternative minimum tax (AMT) that Republicans in Congress snuck through under the pretext of coronavirus aid. A recent report from Friends of the Earth shows that tax policy was the oil and gas industry’s main priority in stimulus negotiations.

Friends of the Earth senior policy analyst Lukas Ross issued the following statement in response:

Trump’s Big Oil bailout is no longer a threat on the horizon, it is an inarguable fact. Republicans in Congress are apparently perfectly fine with polluters cashing refund checks while nurses work without PPE gear. These corporate tax cuts must be repealed, and the fossil fuel industry must be barred from accessing future stimulus funds.

The topline findings indicate:

  • Refining giant Marathon Petroleum is expecting $411 million in tax benefits as a result of changes to net operating losses alone.


  • Occidental Petroleum, the fourth largest oil company in the US whose debt was recently downgraded to junk, is expecting a $195 million “cash refund” as a result of changes to the AMT and net operating losses.


  • EQT, the largest producer of natural gas in the US, is expecting changes to the AMT to increase its “collected, expected refund” in 2020 by $94.8 million.


  • Devon and EOG, two of the largest fracking companies in the US, are expecting tax benefits of $105 million and $150 million, respectively.


  • Many other shale companies, including Pioneer and Continental, report continuing to monitor the stimulus tax cuts, indicating that benefits could be claimed later.


  • The full list of beneficiaries is available here.


Expert contact: Lukas Ross, (202) 222-0724, [email protected]
Communications contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, [email protected]


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