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Paying Zero Income Taxes: Ask the CEOs

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- General Electric (GE - Get Report), the industrial conglomerate, is reported to have paid little to no taxes in 2010, and received a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

So TheStreet asks the CEOs:

With the typical federal tax rate of 35% for U.S. corporations, should a company, through "tax benefit" accounting or off-shoring of assets, be allowed to pay zero income taxes?

Malcolm Unsworth, CEO of smart meter provider Itron (ITRI - Get Report): "We've got a number of competitors throughout the world and GE is just one of them. When it comes to providing products and solutions to many parts of the world, we pay our fair share of taxes because we are a global company that operates locally. We do business in about 130 countries a year, so we have a tax structure that we pay taxes no matter where we are, in whatever country we do business in. So maybe there are some companies out there that do a little better job on the tax front than we do." --Gregg Greenberg

Government Cutbacks Won't Undo Itron, Says CEO

Kevin Harrington, TVGoods CEO and ABC's "Shark Tank" entrepreneur: "At the end of the day, I think it's all about shareholder value and increasing the profits for the company. Obviously it's got to be done within the legal constraints that we all have. But we do all of our business in terms of the corporate office here domestically, so we don't have offshore companies at this stage. If we could figure out how to in our international distribution -- we are looking at setting up some offshore businesses -- it's worth exploring. --Debra Borchardt

Kevin Harrington: Forget Banks Come to ABC's Shark Tank

Rob McEwen, CEO of U.S. Gold (UXG), a small gold explorer: "We have very convoluted accounting rules and so General Electric is probably paying taxes at some level ... They did take large writedowns for making capital investments and so they have loss carryforwards but if they're recovering they will end up paying taxes. What you want to do in the country is have a lot of people investing money in the country, in productive assets that create employment and that is creating a tax base ... so I don't think it's unfair." --Alix Steel

Gold and Silver Miner Ready to Buy


What are America's corporate leaders saying about the issues of the day? TheStreet's reporters, during the course of their weekly coverage, will pose a thematic question to the business executives they interview. Have a question you'd like to see TheStreet ask the CEOs? Send it to tips@thestreet.com. Follow TheStreet on Twitter.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.

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