You may not believe this, but once upon a time even big corporations paid taxes.
Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) has a new study of Fortune 500 companies that illuminates how the nation’s largest corporations are able to corrupt our broken tax system to pay nothing — sometimes literally less than nothing — in taxes.
Facebook, for instance, used one simple tax break — writing off executive stock options — to pay no taxes in 2012 and offset its future taxes. CTJ cites U.S. senator Carl Levin (D-MI), who estimates that this tax break costs taxpayers between $12 billion and $61 billion a year.
These 10 companies do business in a wide range of of sectors in locations throughout the United States:
As a group, the 10 companies paid no federal income tax on $16 billion in profits in 2012, and they paid zero federal income tax on $57 billion in profits over the past five years. All but one paid less than zero federal income tax in 2012; all paid exceedingly low rates over five years.
President Obama has included a proposal for revenue-neutral tax reform in his 2014 budget, meaning he would get rid of the tax breaks enjoyed by companies that can afford to find every possible tax break in exchange for lower tax rates. However, by eliminating so-called “tax-extenders” and reforming the U.S. international tax system, revenues would rise over the next decade — something Republicans object to.
House Republicans would like to lower the tax rate to 25 percent. The president favors 28 percent; 25 percent for manufacturers. Needless to say, the corporations on this list would not be pleased with either outcome — if the tax breaks are truly removed.
CTJ believes “a sensible starting point should be to critically assess the costs of each of these tax breaks, and to take steps to ensure that profitable corporations pay their fair share of the U.S. taxes.”