By David Cay Johnston
The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
The heirs of the SC Johnson fortune, the richest family in Wisconsin with four multi-billionaires according to Forbes, paid not a penny of Wisconsin corporate income tax on profits from their global household products business and two smaller companies from 2000 through 2008, public records show.
The smaller companies made more than $400 million in Wisconsin profit. Indications are the much larger household products firm, which is privately held and does not disclose its profits, netted more than a billion dollars, and possibly many billions.
“How did the Johnson companies pull in such profits without having a penny of Wisconsin taxable income?” asked Jack Norman, research director for the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future in the August issue of its “Who Does Not Pay Taxes?” newsletter.
Now thanks to a 15-page document prepared in April 2008 by PricewaterhouseCoopers we have an answer — at least for the family’s main holding, SC Johnson & Son, Inc, makers of world famous household products ranging from Raid bug spray to Ziploc bags.