At a time when corporations are seeing record profits while not paying their fair share of federal taxes, state corporate income taxes can and should play a role in raising sustainable revenue and adding progressivity to state tax codes. Right now, lawmakers in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut have a unique opportunity to extend targeted tax changes that have raised billions of dollars from profitable corporations for meaningful public investments.
State Corporate Taxes
ITEP’s state corporate tax work examines the tax-paying habits of Fortune 500 corporations and corporate contributions to state revenue. It occasionally releases a comprehensive state corporate tax study as a companion to its national report on federal taxes paid (or not paid) by profitable corporations. ITEP also examines state tax incentives provided to corporations in exchange for the promise of economic growth.
blog February 28, 2023
New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut Should Keep Corporate Taxes Strong, Extend Surcharges
blog February 22, 2023
The Five Best Tax Ideas Coming from Governors This Year
The word “tax” appears 97 times and counting in one recent summary of governors’ addresses to state legislators so far this year. The policy visions that governors are bringing, however, vary enormously. While there’s good reason to worry about tax cuts for wealthy families and the flattening or elimination of income taxes, there are at least five great tax ideas coming directly out of governors’ offices this year.
blog October 31, 2022
Tax Foundation’s ‘State Business Tax Climate Index’ Bears Little Connection to Business Reality
The big problem with the Index is that it peddles a solution that not only falls short of the goal of generating business investment, but one that actively harms state lawmakers’ ability to provide the kinds of public goods – like good schools and modern, efficient transportation networks – that businesses need and want.
report January 17, 2019
A Simple Fix for a $17 Billion Loophole: How States Can Reclaim Revenue Lost to Tax Havens
Enacting Worldwide Combined Reporting or Complete Reporting in all states, this report calculates, would increase state tax revenue by $17.04 billion dollars. Of that total, $2.85 billion would be raised through domestic Combined Reporting improvements, and $14.19 billion would be raised by addressing offshore tax dodging (see Table 1). Enacting Combined Reporting and including known tax havens would result in $7.75 billion in annual tax revenue, $4.9 billion from income booked offshore.
blog January 17, 2019
How States Can Help Shut Down Tax Havens by Cracking Down on Profit Shifting
A core problem with our corporate income tax laws at the federal and state levels is that they allow companies to use accounting gimmicks to shift significant amounts of their profits into low or zero-tax jurisdictions. Federal lawmakers had an opportunity to address this with the 2017 tax law, but they failed to do so, and, in fact, the law may incentivize more offshore tax avoidance. State lawmakers, however, can buck the federal trend and crack down on profit shifting themselves.
blog November 13, 2018
Three Tax Takeaways on Amazon’s Expansion Announcement
Today Amazon announced major expansions in New York and Virginia, where it intends to hire up to 50,000 full-time employees. The announcement marks the culmination of a highly publicized search that lasted more than a year and involved aggressive courting of the company by cities across the nation. The following are three tax-related observations on the announcement.
blog October 17, 2018
New Report Finds that Upside-down State and Local Tax Systems Persist, Contributing to Inequality in Most States
State and local tax systems in 45 states worsen income inequality by making incomes more unequal after taxes. The worst among these are identified in ITEP’s Terrible 10. Washington, Texas, Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Wyoming hold the dubious honor of having the most regressive state and local tax systems in the nation. These states ask far more of their lower- and middle-income residents than of their wealthiest taxpayers.
report August 23, 2018
ITEP Testimony “Regarding the Final Report of the Arkansas Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force”Read the testimony in PDF WRITTEN TESTIMONY SUBMITTED TO: THE ARKANSAS TAX REFORM AND RELIEF TASK FORCE Lisa Christensen Gree, Senior State Tax Policy Analyst Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy…
news release April 27, 2017
Profitable Fortune 500 Companies Avoid $126 Billion in State Corporate Taxes Over Eight YearsThe Effective State Tax Rate Paid by Profitable Fortune 500 Corporations Is Declining,Yet States Continue to Actively Dismantle Their Corporate Income Taxes (Washington, D.C.) As states struggle with tough budget…
report April 27, 2017
3 Percent and Dropping: State Corporate Tax Avoidance in the Fortune 500, 2008 to 2015
The trend is clear: states are experiencing a rapid decline in state corporate income tax revenue. Despite rebounding and even booming bottom lines for many corporations, this downward trend has become increasingly apparent in recent years. Since our last analysis of these data, in 2014, the state effective corporate tax rate paid by profitable Fortune 500 corporations has declined, dropping from 3.1 percent to 2.9 percent of their U.S. profits. A number of factors are driving this decline, including: a race to the bottom by states providing significant “incentives” for specific companies to relocate or stay put; blatant manipulation of loopholes in state tax systems by corporate accountants; significant cuts in state corporate tax rates; and the erosion of state corporate tax bases, largely due to ill-advised state-level linkages to the federal system.
blog April 27, 2017
New State Corporate Study: 3 Percent and DroppingStates are experiencing a rapid decline in state corporate income tax revenue, and the downward trend has become increasingly pronounced in recent years. Despite rebounding bottom lines for many corporations,…
blog April 21, 2017
No Room to Swing a CAT in Louisiana LegislatureThe Louisiana Legislature has been in session for two weeks now. The stage has been set for fiscal reform and the stakes are high. The state faces a $1.3 billion…
report April 10, 2017
U.S. Collects Smaller Share of Corporate Taxes Than Developed Country Average
Corporate income taxes in the United States as a share of the economy are well below the average among developed nations, according to an analysis of the most recent data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Data from the OECD show that U.S. corporate taxes as a percentage of GDP are 2.2 percent, which is 24 percent less than the 2.9 percent weighted average among the 34 other OECD countries for which data were available.
report April 4, 2017
Testimony before the Alaska House Labor & Commerce Committee On House Bill 36
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the changes House Bill 36 would make to Alaska’s tax treatment of pass-through income. The taxation of pass-through business entities has been a focal point of state and federal tax reform debates for over a quarter century, with a dual focus on minimizing the role of tax laws in determining the choice of business entity and on ensuring that the income of all business entities is subject to at least a minimal tax. My testimony makes two main points:
1. Alaska is one of a small number of states that do not currently impose either an entity-level tax or a personal income tax on the income generated by pass-through businesses. 2. But Alaska fully taxes the income of traditional C corporations, creating a clear incentive for businesses to structure as pass-throughs to avoid income tax.
In the absence of a statewide personal income tax, imposing an entity-level tax on the net income of pass-through businesses, as HB36 would do, is a straightforward approach to leveling the playing field between different types of business entities, while ensuring these businesses help to fund public investments.
news release March 28, 2017
Corporations’ Offshore Cash Hoard Grew to $2.6 Trillion in 2016
U.S. corporations now hold a record $2.6 trillion offshore, a sum that ballooned by more than $200 billion over the last year as companies moved more aggressively to shift their profits offshore, according to a new report, Fortune 500 Companies Hold a Record $2.6 Trillion Offshore, released today by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP).
blog February 27, 2017
States Should Require Combined Reporting of Corporate IncomeAn important aspect of a 21st century tax code is ensuring that corporate income taxes are easy for corporations to follow, but not easy for them to avoid. As our…
brief February 24, 2017
Combined Reporting of State Corporate Income Taxes: A Primer
Over the past several decades, state corporate income taxes have declined markedly. One of the factors contributing to this decline has been aggressive tax avoidance on the part of large, multi-state corporations, costing states billions of dollars. The most effective approach to combating corporate tax avoidance is combined reporting, a method of taxation currently employed in more than half of the states that tax corporate income. The two most recent states to enact combined reporting are Rhode Island in 2014 and Connecticut in 2015.
In several states, including Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, lawmakers adopted the policy after first carrying out in-depth studies of its potential effects. This policy brief explains how combined reporting works.
report September 30, 2016
Comment Letter to FASB on Income Tax Disclosure
We appreciate the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) ongoing review of its accounting standards to ensure that financial statements are “facilitating clear communication of information that is important to financial statement users.” Overall, the changes to disclosure requirements proposed by FASB in the exposure draft would represent a significant step forward toward providing users of financial statements the clarity that they need. We believe, however, that the exposure draft does not go far enough in providing the clarity needed and sought by investors and the public alike.
brief June 29, 2016
State Corporate Tax Disclosure: Why It’s Needed
Few state tax trends are as striking as the rapid decline of state corporate income tax revenues. As recently as 1986, state corporate income taxes equaled 0.5 percent of nationwide Gross State Product (GSP) (a measure of statewide economic activity). But in fiscal year 2013 (the last year for which data are available), state and local corporate income taxes were just 0.33 percent of nationwide GSP–representing a decline of over 30 percent.
report December 10, 2015
Delaware: An Onshore Tax Haven
When thinking of tax havens, one generally pictures notorious zero-tax Caribbean islands like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. However, we can also find a tax haven a lot closer to home in the state of Delaware – a choice location for U.S. business formation. A loophole in Delaware’s tax code is responsible for the loss of billions of dollars in revenue in other U.S. states, and its lack of incorporation transparency makes it a magnet for people looking to create anonymous shell companies, which individuals and corporations can use to evade an inestimable amount in federal and foreign taxes. The Internal Revenue Service estimated a total tax gap of about $450 billion with $376 billion of it due to filers underreporting income in 2006 (the most recent tax year for which this data is available).[i] While it is impossible to know how much underreported income is hidden in Delaware shell companies, the First State’s ability to attract the formation of anonymous companies suggests that it could rival the amount of income hidden in more well-known offshore tax havens.
report January 30, 2015
Who Pays? (Fourth Edition)Major tax overhauls are on the agenda in a record number of states, and “Who Pays?” documents in state-by-state detail the precise distribution of state income taxes, sales and excise…
report January 10, 2015
Who Pays? Fifth EditionRead the Report in PDF The 2015 Who Pays: A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All Fifty States (the fifth edition of the report) assesses the fairness of…
report March 19, 2014
90 Reasons We Need State Corporate Tax Reform
As states struggle with tough budget decisions about funding essential public services, profitable Fortunate 500 companies are paying little or nothing in state income taxes thanks to copious loopholes, lavish giveaways and crafty accounting, a new study by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy reveals.
report January 11, 2013
Proposal to Eliminate Income Taxes Amounts to a Tax Increase on Bottom 80 Percent of Louisianans
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has said that he supports the elimination of the state’s personal and corporate income taxes. In fiscal year 2012, Louisiana collected nearly $3 billion in revenues from its personal and corporate income taxes.
brief August 1, 2012
Corporate Income Tax Apportionment and the “Single Sales Factor”
One of the thorniest problems in administering state corporate income taxes is how to distribute the profits of multi-state corporations among the states in which they operate. Ultimately, each corporation’s profits should be taxed in their entirety, but some corporations pay no tax at all on a portion of their profits. This problem has emerged, in part, due to recent state efforts to manipulate the “apportionment rules” that distribute such profits. This policy brief explains how apportionment rules work and assesses the effectiveness of special apportionment rules such as “single sales factor” as economic development tools.