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Is the United States getting a good deal on its natural resources? A taxing question

This case study began with a not-so-simple question: Is the United States getting a good deal for the depletion of its natural resources?

Publish What You Pay – United States (PWYP-US) has worked for 13 years to open the books of oil, gas and mining companies to create a more open and accountable extractives sector. More than a decade into this effort, many of the world’s largest oil, gas and mining companies now disclose their project-level payments to governments, either voluntarily or in compliance with legal requirements. Yet, a few major US oil companies
– namely ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips – remain strongly opposed to these simple financial disclosures.

Like the citizens in resource-rich countries around the world, citizens of the United States also need to know if they are getting a good deal on their natural resources. Thoroughly answering this question, however, is incredibly complex and involves the careful analysis of contracts, as well as relevant tax and royalty regimes governing the extractives sector. As a starting point, this case study focuses on how much some of the largest extractives companies paid in taxes to the US federal government in 2015.

This case study is part of Publish What You Pay’s Data Extractors programme, a global initiative which trains PWYP members and activists from across our network to use extractives data.

This case study was written by Jana Morgan Director of PWYP USA as part of her Data Extractor’s project

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