REVEALED: The 30 American Companies That Paid Less Than $0 In Income Tax Over The Last 3 Years

corporate tax dodger

Photo: citizens for tax justice

The corporate tax rate in the U.S. is 35%, but there aren’t many companies that end up paying that amount. According to a study by the Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the average tax rate of 280 S&P 500 companies investigated was 18.5% between 2008 and 2010.Over 70 companies paid no taxes at all.

And then there were the 30 companies that paid less than nothing — we have those for you here.

But first, here’s how they get away with it (from the report):

  • Accelerated depreciation: “The tax laws generally allow companies to write off their capital investments considerably faster than the assets actually wear out. This “accelerated depreciation” is technically a tax deferral, but so long as a company continues to invest, the tax deferral tends to be indefinite.”
  • Stock options: Most big corporations give their executives (and sometimes other employees) options to buy the company’s stock at a favourable price in the future. When those options are exercised, companies can take a tax deduction for the difference between what the employees pay for the stock and what it’s worth (while employees report this difference as taxable wages). Paying executives with options took off in the mid-1990s, in part because this kind of compensation was exempt from a law enacted in 1993 that tried to reduce income inequality by limiting corporate deductions for executive pay to $1 million per executive.
  • Industry-specific tax breaks. The federal tax code also provides tax subsidies to companies that engage in certain activities.
  • Offshore tax sheltering: Over the past decade or so, corporations and their accounting firms have become increasingly aggressive in seeking ways to shift their U.S. profits, on paper, into offshore tax havens, in order to avoid their U.S. tax obligations.

It’s also worth pointing out two things: 2008-2009 were strange, anomalous years in corporate history due to the severity of the crisis AND these companies will all counter and say they paid tons of taxes that weren’t necessarily income taxes.

Corning

What is it?: A technology based company with 5 segments: Display Technologies, Telecommunications, Environmental Technologies, Specialty Materials and Life Sciences.

'08-'10 Profit: $1,977,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-4,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -0.2%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

DTE Energy

What is it: A Detroit-based energy company that distributes, stores, sells, and transmits electricity, natural gas and oil.

'08-'10 Profit: $2,551,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-17,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -0.7%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Honeywell International

What is it: A technology and manufacturing company that deal with anything from aerospace technology to home security.

'08-'10 Profit: $4,903,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-34,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -0.7%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Mattel

What is it: A toy company.

'08-'10 Profit: $1,020,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-9,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -0.9%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

El Paso Corporation

What is it: A gas exploration and distribution company.

'08-'10 Profit: $4,903,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-41,000,0000

'08-'10 Rate: -1.0%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Wells Fargo

What is it: A banking a financial services company.

'08-'10 Profit: $49,370,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-681,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -1.4%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Boeing

What is it: An aerospace manufacturing and technology company

'08-'10 Profit: $9,735,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-178,00,000

'08-'10 Rate: -1.8%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Navistar International

What is it: An international holding company.

'08-'10 Profit: $896,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-18,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -2.0%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

NextEra Energy

What is it: An electric power company.

'08-'10 Profit: $6,403,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: -$139,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -2.2%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

CMS Energy

What it does: An energy company with three subsidiaries that deal with natural gas, alternative energy and power production.

'08-'10 Profit: $1,292,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-29,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -2.2%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Interpublic Group

What is it: A global advertising and marketing company.

'08-'10 Profit: $571,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-15,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -2.6%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Verizon Communications

What is it: A telecommunications company.

'08-'10 Profit: $35,518,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-951,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -2.9%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Consolidated Edison

What is it: A New York energy provider, it delivers electric gas and steam.

'08-'10 Profit: $4,263,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-127,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -3.0%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

DuPont

What is it: A wide ranging company providing services in sectors from agriculture to construction

'08-'10 Profit: $2,124,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-72,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -3.4%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Duke Energy

What it does: A power company mostly focusing on distributing electricity and natural gas in the Southeastern Midwestern United States.

'08-'10 Profit: $5,475,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-216,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -3.4%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Wisconsin Energy

What is it: A diversified holding company focusing on power and utilities.

'08-'10 Profit: $1,725,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-85,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -4.9%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Baxter International

What is it: A global healthcare company.

'08-'10 Profit: $926,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-66,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -7.1%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Ryder System

What is it: A transportation and supply chain management company.

'08-'10 Profit: $627,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-46,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -7.3%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Con-way

What is it: A company that provides transportation and supply chain management solutions for industrial companies.

'08-'10 Profit: $286,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-26,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -9.1%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

American Electric Power

What is it: A holding company whose subsidiaries include: Appalachian Power Company (APCo), Columbus Southern Power Company (CSPCo), Indiana Michigan Power Company (I&M), Kentucky Power Company (KPCo), and more.

'08-'10 Profit: $5,899,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-545,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -9.2%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Integrys Energy Group

What is it: a diversified energy holding company with regulated natural gas and electric utility operations, non-regulated energy operations, and an approximate 34% equity ownership interest in American Transmission Company LLC (ATC).

'08-'10 Profit: $818,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-92,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -11.3%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Atmos Energy

What is it: Mainly a natural gas distribution, storage and transmission company.

'08-'10 Profit: $897,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-104,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -11.3%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Tenet Healthcare

What is it: A healthcare company that operates hospitals and other healthcare facilties.

'08-'10 Profit: $415,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-48,00,000

'08-'10 Rate: -11.6%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

CenterPoint Energy

What is it: A public utility holding company.

'08-'10 Profit: $1,931,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-284,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -14.7%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

NiSource

What is it: A diversified energy holding company with services in natural gas, electricity and other products and services to approximately 3.8 million customers located within a corridor that runs from the Gulf Coast through the Midwest to New England.

'08-'10 Profit: $1,385,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-284,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -16.4%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Computer Sciences

What it is: An information technology (IT) and professional services company.

'08-'10 Profit: $1,666,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-305,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -18.3%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

PG&E Corp.

What is it: A holding company whose primary purpose is to hold interests in energy-based businesses. PG&E Corporation conducts its business principally through Pacific Gas and Electric Company (Utility), operating in northern and central California.

'08-'10 Profit: $4,855,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-1,027,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -21.2%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Paccar

What is it: A company that designs, manufactures and handles customer support of light, medium and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates. PACCAR also provides customised financial services, information technology and truck parts related to its principle business.

'08-'10 Profit: $365,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-112,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -30.5%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

General Electric

What is it: A diversified technology and financial services corporation.

'08-'10 Profit: $10,460,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-4737,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -45.3%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Pepco Holdings

What is it: A holding company that, through regulated public utility subsidiaries, is engaged in the transmission, distribution and default supply of electricity and the distribution and supply of natural gas

'08-'10 Profit: $882,000,000

'08-'10 Tax: $-508,000,000

'08-'10 Rate: -57.6%

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Most of these countries happen to be in energy.

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