SeaWorld Parks doesn't pay any corporate income taxes after record year

Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 10:01 AM | Contributed by Jeff

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment had record earnings in 2011. But SeaWorld won't have to pay a dime in federal income tax or Florida corporate income tax, either. Thanks to big tax deductions for capital investment and interest payments, SeaWorld's record 2011 will actually go down as a loss for tax purposes.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Friday, April 6, 2012 2:23 PM

good for SeaWorld! at least someone can avoid the government! :) they deserve it they help so many animals

Friday, April 6, 2012 2:29 PM

Occupy Seaworld!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012 3:08 AM

At least they aren't turning a profit off the system like GE does...

Still, this is the single biggest flaw in our tax system. Any company or wealthy person with access to some accountants can simply play shell games with their money and walk away with little to no tax liability. This needs to be fully addressed and fixed before anybody starts crying about what individuals are spending their $300 welfare checks on.

Monday, April 9, 2012 9:05 AM

Thats a tax loophole large enough for even Shamu to jump through!

Monday, April 9, 2012 9:42 AM

I'm not entirely sure why this is a big news story. For years, I had income from this Web site, but my expenses were higher than the income and I obviously didn't pay taxes on that income. That's true if you do $10,000 in revenue or $100,000,000 in revenue.

Monday, April 9, 2012 10:39 AM

Some of the issue results from how "income" is used. In the example of this site, sounds like you had revenue but no income (which is revenue less some level of expenses at least from an accounting standpoint). From the article, it seems like SeaWorld had income (after taking into account expenses -- at least other than depreciation and interest expense) but no taxable income (after taking into account depreciation and interest expense).

Monday, April 9, 2012 11:10 AM

Right, but the spirit of the tax code is the same either way... did the company end the year in an overall positive state. Where apparently they're splitting hairs is what constitutes a justifiable expense. I think that's where the discussion should happen, not, "They made money and didn't pay taxes, bastards!" The example of GE comes up all of the time, and rightfully so. I guess what I'm saying is that people should hate the game, not the players, and lobby to get the game changed.

Monday, April 9, 2012 11:18 AM

I believe there's a large group in NYC, and other places around the country, that is lobbying to get the game changed, but the general attitude toward them seems to be "get a job, hippies!".

Monday, April 9, 2012 12:00 PM

It's not just the hippies. The Debt Commission, among many recommendations, also suggested simplifying the tax code significantly---and that's code for "closing loopholes".

Monday, April 9, 2012 12:05 PM

^Yes. I find it somewhat comical to say "don't like the game, lobby to get the rules changed" - clearly those who have the influence (read: $ and access) to get the rules of the game changed....already have.

The complaints of "you hate capitalism" happen every time it's suggested that the game has been rigged. Capitalism by its very essence functions as trickle-up economics...otherwise it wouldn't work at all. Rules have to be put in place (and maintained) to prevent aggregations of wealth so enormous that it actually puts a damper on economic growth (that's why we instituted an estate tax in the first place).

Clearly, incentive, ambition, initiative and entrepreneurialism MUST be rewarded - that's not in dispute. Claiming Wal*Mart cannot provide health insurance to their employees because that's "bad for small businesses" - I'll let you all decide what's wrong with that line of reasoning...

Monday, April 9, 2012 12:10 PM

If we were having a rational discussion (and I am referring to "we" as in the country, not this site), we wouldn't blame the players. But the discussion is taking place largely in the political arena which is anything but rational. Politicians (from both parties) enact the rules of the game and then complain when the game plays out how any rational person would expect given the rules. Politicians create deductions (calling them incentives for investment, growth, etc.) and then turn around and label them "loopholes" when they are used by companies/individuals. Part of the reduction in GE's tax bill results from accelerated depreciation put in place to help stimulate investment in new equipment to help the economy. Then politicians seek to bash GE over the head for their taxes to pander to the public. It would be comical if those folks weren't the leaders of the country.

If we were just looking at collecting revenue, we should have flat taxes (both individual and corporate). But politicians want to use the tax code to influence behavior and reward supporters which results in the overcomplicated patchwork quilt that we call the tax code.

Monday, April 9, 2012 1:17 PM

rollergator said:
^Yes. I find it somewhat comical to say "don't like the game, lobby to get the rules changed" - clearly those who have the influence (read: $ and access) to get the rules of the game changed....already have.

And why do you suppose that is? The Jerry Springerfication of Americans is front and center. Voters have always had influence that can trump money, but because of a general apathy and desire to focus more on who can marry or what restrictions to place on vaginas, the companies exerting financial power win. Ask people what caused the financial crisis, and they won't know, or they'll give some half-baked answer that oversimplifies it. If people can't engage beyond "More for me!" and "No gay marriage!" nothing will change.

That's exactly why the whole Occupy thing is a joke. Being pissed is the correct action, but directing the anger toward companies and not toward the government that enables them is a waste of time, particularly if you're not going to get involved with that government.

Monday, April 9, 2012 2:15 PM

Of course the blame lies with the government. But, that doesn't fit the agenda. Different subject matter entirely but people are so focused on the Sanford PD in Florida that they are nearly blind to the fact that the Florida State Government enacted horrible legislation with regards to Stand Your Ground. Again, that would not fit the agenda in of detractors in this case either.

Monday, April 9, 2012 2:39 PM

The Jerry Springerfication of Americans is front and center.

I've started calling it "the tl;dr society."

Monday, April 9, 2012 3:09 PM

Jeff said:
The Jerry Springerfication of Americans is front and center.

Brian Noble said:
I've started calling it "the tl;dr society."

Hey, if you can't enact legislation in 140 characters or less...

Monday, April 9, 2012 3:16 PM

That said, simplifying the tax code is not for the faint of heart.

For example, consider the mortgage interest deduction. It is ostensibly intended to increase home ownership rates, but that's dubious at best. Mostly, it encourages people to borrow more rather than less money. But, it's still widely considered a Third Rail---as in, touch it and die (a political death) instantly.

Monday, April 9, 2012 3:26 PM

Mortgage interest and charitable donation deductions are very popular. Eliminating them in a flat tax system would be difficult. Doesn't mean it shouldn't be done though. We would be much better off if we elected parents (who will tell us what we need to hear) rather than friends (who tell us what we want to hear). Not holding my breath though.

Monday, April 9, 2012 3:57 PM

I'm OK with the charitable contribution thing. I think charities play an important and necessary role in a functional society. Since we don't want the government subsidizing them directly, it makes sense to me to flip it around and have a deduction. The net result is subsidizing before it take income, but I'd prefer that to the feds spending the money.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 2:34 AM

The "flat tax" sounds nice in theory, but in practice it would absolutely crush the middle and lower classes in this country while saving the richest a boatload of money. If our distribution of wealth weren't so absurdly lopsided it would probably stand a better chance at working, but as it stands now it's just a horrible idea.

I'm not sure why it's suggested we shouldn't be angry with the players in this tax game. After all, they are the ones writing the rules. The voters haven't mattered in a long time, and with things like Citizens United, will continue to matter even less. Go ahead and vote out your corrupt senator, another equally corrupt one will just be bought out to take their place. Until the money and lobbyists are both entirely removed from government AND political campaigns, nothing will ever change.


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