theodp writes: 'He understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy,' President Obama said of GE CEO Jeff Immelt, as he announced Immelt would chair the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. On Friday, the NY Times reported that one trick Immelt employs to keep GE competitive is paying no American tax bill. In fact, GE claimed a 2010 tax benefit of $3.2B on worldwide profits of $14.2B, $5.1B of which came from US operations. According to the NYT, GE's extraordinary tax-avoidance success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. GE’s giant tax department is led by a former Treasury official whose 975-member team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the IRS and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress. GE's return to rock-bottom tax rates marks a dramatic reversal from the mid-80's when President Regan reacted to corporate accounting gamesmanship and supported a change that closed loopholes and required GE to pay a far higher effective rate, up to 32.5%. 'That GE can almost set its own tax rate shows how very much we need reform,' said Rep. Lloyd Doggett. 'Our tax system should encourage job creation and investment in America and end these tax incentives for exporting jobs and dodging responsibility for the cost of securing our country.'