It never ceases to amaze me how much we value corporations over the citizenry in this country, so when found out that 30 of the most profitable corporations in the United States paid less than zero in taxes for the past three years, I was not surprised…or happy.  I found this information in a recently released study from Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy titled “Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010”. This publication comprehensive study of  280 of the Fortune 500 companies, and the tax loopholes and breaks they exploit.

“These 280 corporations received a total of nearly $224 billion in tax subsidies,” said Robert McIntyre, Director at Citizens for Tax Justice and the report’s lead author. “This is wasted money that could have gone to protect Medicare, create jobs and cut the deficit.”

  • 30 Companies average less than zero tax bill in the last three Years, 78 had at least one no-tax year.
  • Financial services received the largest share of all federal tax subsidies over the last three years. More than half the tax subsidies for companies in the study went to four industries: financial services, utilities, telecommunications, and oil, gas & pipelines.
  • U.S. corporations with significant foreign profits paid tax rates to foreign countries that were almost a third higher than they paid to the IRS on their domestic profits.

This detailed study not only explains who receives these tax breaks, how they get them, and the math behind the process; it also discusses the numerous impacts these tax breaks have.  These loopholes lower revenue streams to the State during critical budget shortages, increase the tax burden on citizens (as well as making them subject to more stringent tax regulations), it damages weaker companies ability to compete in the open market. The detailed industry tables found on page 25 of the report present discrepancies within industries are prevalent.
For example:

  • DuPont and Monsanto both produce chemicals. But over the 2008-10 period, Monsanto paid22 percent of its profits in U.S. corporate income taxes, while DuPont actually paid a negative tax rate of –3.4 percent.
  •  Department store chain Macy’s paid a three-year rate of 12.1 percent, while competing chain Nordstrom’s paid 37.1 percent.
  •  In computer technology, Hewlett-Packard paid 3.7 of its three-year U.S. profits in federal income taxes, while Texas Instruments paid 33.5 percent.
  •  FedEx paid 0.9 percent over three years, while its competitor United Parcel Service paid 24.1 percent.

All of which run contrary to the laissez faire claims from Conservatives, who are also the largest supporters of corporate tax breaks. Maybe they were to busy spouting support for Ayn Rand’s books to actually read them.

We’re still climbing out of a finical hole dug by overspending, corporate greed, and fiscal irresponsibility on a criminal level.  Some may claim that these breaks are necessary for the ever elusive animal “job growth”, but from where I sit they are nothing more than an outdated, unnecessary, and unfair practice.

The whole 74 page study can be found here: http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/CorporateTaxDodgersReport.pdf

While this study is loaded with technical information it is a must read for this interested in the ongoing debate on corporate taxation. Corporate tax loopholes have run so far off the rail  that most Americans can rightfully complain, “I pay more federal income taxes than General Electric, Boeing, DuPont, Wells Fargo, Verizon, etc., etc., all put together.” That’s an unacceptable situation.  End corporate favoritism and personhood!

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