It was with some dismay that I read the guest opinion by Michelle Glass that made a number of untrue allegations against Wells Fargo. The piece contained so many half-truths that it's hard to know where to start, but here are some facts Ms. Glass is apparently not aware of:
- In the past 10 years, Wells Fargo (including Wachovia) paid more than $33 billion in federal and state corporate income taxes. That includes payments of $4.8 billion in federal income taxes during the past two years alone.
- As with every corporate and individual taxpayer, the amount Wells Fargo pays each year varies based on its taxable income. In 2009 the company's taxable income was significantly reduced as a consequence of its acquisition of Wachovia and, as a result, it did not pay federal income taxes that year.
- Wells Fargo pays more taxes than almost every other U.S. company. Forbes.com just posted a story about the top 25 U.S. firms that pay the most in taxes. Wells Fargo ranked seventh on that list, ahead of companies such as IBM and Apple.
- Wells Fargo has repeatedly been named one of the most generous corporations in Oregon and America.
- The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency rates Wells Fargo in Oregon as "Outstanding" for community reinvestment, the highest rating possible.
- The $25 billion TARP investment the government made in Wells Fargo was a loan, which we fully repaid. This loan generated $1.44 billion in interest for U.S. taxpayers, which made it one of the best investments the government ever made.
- Wells Fargo is a leading small business lender in Oregon and the nation. For the past four straight years we've been the No. 1 SBA lender in this state. We want to provide as many loans as possible to credit-worthy borrowers.
- Wells Fargo is also committed to affordable housing. In fact, we are the No. 1 source of financing for affordable housing construction in Oregon and provided $24 million in financing last year for this purpose.
- Wells Fargo is one of the nation's leading employers. We provide jobs for more than 270,000 people, including more than 6,300 in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
We started off in 1852 with two employees, Henry Wells and William Fargo, and no customers. In the ensuing 160 years we've grown into one of the largest financial services providers because we focused on helping our communities and customers succeed financially.
We realize that our success depends directly on the success of our communities. We partner often with nonprofit groups because we feel we can achieve more by working together than we could if we were working individually.
We understand that people are demanding more from their financial institutions during these difficult economic times. We, too, would like to see the economy improve and are doing as much as we possibly can to help. We continue to support our customers and communities by working to keep people in their homes and lending to businesses that need financing to grow and create jobs.
We are proud to be a responsible corporate citizen. We honor our obligations at the federal, state and local levels, providing support for the communities where we serve our customers. To say anything less is just not true.
J.R. Wheeler of Medford is a vice president and business relationship manager for Wells Fargo.