A new study shows that 25 major American corporations last year paid their chief executives more than they paid the government in federal income taxes.
The new Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) Executive Excess report explores the intersection between chief executive pay and what the IPS calls aggressive corporate tax dodging.
The institute researched the 100 American corporations that shelled out the most last year in CEO compensation. At 25 of these corporate giants, the tab for chief executive compensation actually ran higher than the company's entire federal corporate income tax bill.
Corporate outlays for CEO compensation -- despite the lingering Great Recession -- are rising. Employment levels have barely rebounded from their recessionary lows. Top executive pay levels, by contrast, have rebounded nearly all the way back from their pre-recession levels, said IPS.
In 2009, major corporate CEOs took home 263 times the pay of America's average workers. Last year, the gap leaped to 325 to 1, according to IPS.
The average pay of a chief executive of a company in the S&P 500 was $10,762,304 last year, up 27.8 percent over 2009. An average worker took home $33,121 in 2010, up 3.3 percent over the year before.
The IPS says it can find little evidence that the fatter executive paychecks translate into better corporate performance.
What are America's CEOs doing to deserve their latest bountiful rewards? We have no evidence that CEOs are fashioning, with their executive leadership, more effective and efficient enterprises, the IPS said in its report. On the other hand, ample evidence suggests that CEOs and their corporations are expending considerably more energy on avoiding taxes than perhaps ever before -- at a time when the federal government desperately needs more revenue to maintain basic services for the American people. This disinvestment also undermines the infrastructure and services that small and large businesses also depend upon.