Citizens for Tax Justice has a new report examining the tax evasiveness of some of America’s largest corporations. They found that between 2008 – 2010, using data from 280 Fortune 500 corporations, 30 paid no federal income tax at all. As a follow up to their study, they looked at the same 30 companies and found that over the 2008 – 2011 period, all but four of those 30 companies still had negative federal income tax rates. As noted in the chart, the four that actually did have to pay taxes paid very little, and certainly nowhere near the 35% alleged corporate tax rate.
Some of the most elusive tax evaders on this list are absolutely massive, with companies like General Electric, a $200 billion corporate giant, paying a ridiculous -18.9%. GE has been known for their tricky tax filings, apparently hiring as many ex-IRS officials and government lawmakers as they can, but there are also other very profitable corporations in this list who do not need such government subsidies to survive.
CTJ notes that this structure of government really isn’t fair to the rest of us. The burden has been shifted on to tax paying Americans while the federal government continues to run a large budget deficit. The argument that we need low tax rates to keep corporations stationed in the U.S. can really only go so far.
What difference would it make if these companies actually paid the standard 35% corporate tax rate? Pretty big actually. Over the period of 2008 – 2011, the government could have pocketed an extra $78.3 billion in tax revenues from these corporations alone. That’s a lot of new roads and schools.
Well Fargo is leading this field of corporate tax evaders with a disturbing $21.6 billion in subsidies over the 4 year period. General Electric is next highest with nearly $10.6 billion.
2011 by itself was actually a more profitable year for the government as far as reducing tax subsidies go, with the average federal tax rate among these 30 companies at 7.1%. Only 15 corporations of the 30 had tax rates below zero in 2011, with Wisconsin Energy easily the leader at a -33.2% rate.
Gavin Aronson at Mother Jones put together this list of the 10 most profitable tax dodging corporations and the politicians their CEOs, employees, and PACs give the most money to.
Profits: $19.8 billion Effective tax rate: -3.8%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
President Barack Obama: $51,493
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.): $24,450
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): $23,700
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio): $22,500
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): $15,000
Profits: $19.6 billion Effective tax rate: -18.9%
Top recipients, 2011-2012
Mitt Romney: $53,750
President Barack Obama (D): $30,493
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.): $23,900
Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.): $21,860
Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.): $19,750