For the second time in seven months, President Trump will visit a Boeing factory to hype corporate tax cuts. He’s chosen the wrong poster child. If there was something preventing the aerospace giant from expanding its business before the Trump-GOP tax law, it certainly wasn’t taxes.
Boeing made headlines in 2016 only because after years of paying zero in federal taxes, it finally paid something. Over 10 years (2008 to 2017), the company paid an effective federal tax rate of 8.4 percent on $54.7 billion of U.S. profits.
Corporate America is doing alright. Corporate profits soared last year, and 2018 has already brought a major windfall in the form of the Trump-GOP tax law, which dramatically cut the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and shifted to a territorial tax system, giving income earned offshore by U.S. companies a free pass by no longer making it subject to U.S. taxes.
The online retail giant has built its business model on tax avoidance, and its latest financial filing makes it clear that Amazon continues to be insulated from the nation’s tax system. In 2017, Amazon reported $5.6 billion of U.S. profits and didn’t pay a dime of federal income taxes on it. The company’s financial statement suggests that various tax credits and tax breaks for executive stock options are responsible for zeroing out the company’s tax this year.
In the runup to last fall’s tax debate, it was commonly observed that corporate tax reform is both easy and hard: the easy part is cutting the rate, and the hard part is paying for it by closing loopholes. The real test of Congress’ determination to achieve tax reform would be whether they would stand up to corporate lobbyists and shut down loopholes like accelerated depreciation that allow profitable companies to pay little or no income tax. As is now widely known, Congress was not especially determined: lawmakers aggressively cut the corporate rate from 35 to 21 percent, but then expanded depreciation tax breaks instead of repealing them. This week the utility giant (and notable tax avoider) PG&E released its annual financial report assessing the short-term impact of the tax bill on its bottom line. The report shows that even after taking a short-term $147 million tax hit in 2017, the company still won’t pay a dime of current federal income taxes, on balance, on $2.1 billion of income overall.
Never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story, House Speaker Paul Ryan immediately published a press release with the headline, “ExxonMobil to Invest an Additional $50 Billion in the U.S. Due to Tax Reform.” The statement was completely faithful to ExxonMobil’s statement, except for the words “additional” and “due to tax reform.” Not to be outdone, President Trump implied during his State of the Union address that the company was investing $50 billion in response to the new tax law.
But a closer examination of ExxonMobil’s recent history of domestic spending finds that the “new” $50 billion investment is less than what the company invested over the previous five years.
Moody’s does not believe that corporate tax cuts are trickling down to working people as bonuses and pay raises. The real problem with the corporate PR campaign is that even those economists who supported Trump’s corporate tax cut and claimed it would help workers do not believe that it works this way.
The Walt Disney Corporation announced this week that in the wake of the new tax bill’s passage, it will spend $125 million on one-time bonuses and $50 million on an education program for some employees, all in 2018. This $175 million spending commitment is notable for two reasons: it’s temporary, and it’s a drop in the bucket for a company that’s likely to see annual tax savings of $1.2 billion a year and has already committed to a $50 billion-plus corporate acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s assets.
By Greg LeRoy Amazon.com’s announcement of a 20-site “short list” for its second headquarters, or “HQ2” location, is provoking a public backlash that could reshape how economic development is done…
Now, Apple Inc. would like the American public to know that it has “a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country” a small fraction of its multi-billion-dollar tax cut haul. However, the company’s splashy press release is devoid of any specifics on the jobs it will create as a result of the tax bill. Like other corporate announcements, the company’s recent proclamation of newfound patriotism should be viewed as a public relations ploy designed to convince a skeptical public that working families will see some trickle-down benefit from this historic corporate giveaway.
The Walmart corporation announced this week that it will increase its minimum wage to $11 an hour, in a move that the company attributed to the major corporate tax cut signed into law by President Trump last month. The $300 million the company will spend on the wage boost is just a fraction of the more than $2 billion a year ITEP estimates Walmart could net from the corporate tax rate cuts that took effect January 1—but even so, the company felt the need to make the wage boost more affordable by simultaneously closing 63 Sam’s Club stores and laying off thousands of employees. For all the press fanfare surrounding the wage announcement, the quiet layoffs are likely a more meaningful indicator of what awaits the American worker in the wake of the Trump tax cuts.
While many Fortune 500 CEO’s likely had to restrain themselves from preemptively shouting “we’re going to Disneyland” in an homage to the Disney Corporation’s trademark ad spot involving the winner of each year’s Super Bowl, it’s pretty understandable that several of them—including known tax avoiders AT&T, Boeing, Comcast and Wells Fargo—would preemptively make grandiose promises that they will reserve part of their tax cuts for the little people who made it all possible.
Nike earned more than $10 billion in U.S. profits from 2008 to 2015 but only paid 18.6 percent in U.S. federal taxes during this time. This is just over half of the official U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent.
Since Facebook became a public company, its annual revenues have increased by 250 percent from around $8 billion in 2013 to nearly $28 billion last year. In the same time period, the company’s before-tax profits shot up four-and-a-half fold to $12.5 billion. But in this time it has also managed to avoid billions of dollars in U.S. taxes.
Apple is the most valuable public company of all time with a market value of more than $800 billion. Last year, it cleared $45.7 billion[iii] in profits after taxes, making it the most profitable company in the Fortune 500 for the third straight year.
When you think of manufacturing, what comes to mind? According to the U.S. Congress, manufacturing may include things like the production of wrestling-rated films, assembling bouquets of flowers and even slicing cheesecake. These unusual definitions of manufacturing come from the domestic production activities deduction (better known as the manufacturing deduction), a tax break Congress created to encourage manufacturing in the United States.
When the Domestic Production Activities Deduction (DPAD) became law in 2004, proponents described it as a way to help American companies manufacture in the United States and export products abroad. In recent years, the DPAD has grown into one of the largest corporate tax expenditures, with an estimated cost of more than $15 billion in 2016 and $174 billion over the next 10 years.
Just how bad has the corporate tax code gotten? The newest edition of Offshore Shell Games, a joint report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and U.S. PIRG, outlines the massive scale of the offshore tax avoidance undertaken by U.S. multinationals. It’s well known that Fortune 500 companies have accumulated a stash of $2.6 trillion in earnings offshore, which has allowed them to avoid an estimated $752 billion in taxes.
This study explores how in 2016 Fortune 500 companies used tax haven subsidiaries to avoid paying taxes on much of their income. It reveals that tax haven use is now standard practice among the Fortune 500 and that a handful of the country’s biggest corporations benefit the most from offshore tax avoidance schemes.
The Trump Administration and GOP leaders continue to wrap their multi-trillion tax cut gift to the wealthy in easily refutable rhetoric about boosting the nation’s middle class. Later today, trucks…
The Trump-GOP tax plan is touted as plan for the middle-class but delivers a boon to the wealthy, throws a comparative pittance to everyone else and even includes a dose of tax increases for some middle- and upper-middle-income taxpayers. The data belie the rhetoric.
President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have proposed a “territorial” tax system, which would allow American corporations to pay no U.S. taxes on most profits they book offshore. This would worsen the already substantial problem of corporate tax avoidance and result in more jobs and investment leaving the U.S. Lawmakers should know some key facts about the territorial approach.
The problem of offshore tax avoidance by American corporations could grow much worse under President Donald Trump’s proposal to adopt a “territorial” tax system, which would exempt the offshore profits of American corporations from U.S. taxes. This change would increase the already substantial benefits American corporations obtain when they use accounting gimmicks to make their profits appear to be earned in a foreign country that has no corporate income tax or has one that is extremely low or easy to avoid.
House Speaker Paul Ryan plans to visit a Boeing factory in Washington State tomorrow to promote the GOP’s ideas for tax reform, which include a deep cut in the corporate tax rate, while House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady is bringing the same message today to employees of AT&T in Dallas. What is unclear is how much lower taxes for these companies can possibly go.
Today, the economic climate is starkly different, but it seems GOP leaders are relying on messaging and luck to push through the biggest tax package since 1986. The White House, Republican leaders and anti-tax advocates all have been toeing the same erroneous line: their plans to cut individual and corporate taxes will benefit middle class families and grow the economy. This is, of course, baloney.
For a corporation with deeply American roots, Microsoft seems remarkably unable to turn a profit here. Against all odds, the Redmond, Washington-based company continues to claim that virtually all its earnings are in foreign countries. Microsoft’s latest annual report, released earlier this week, shows that over the past two years, the company enjoyed worldwide income of almost $43 billion. It claims to have earned just 0.3 percent of that—$128 million—in the United States.
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump called out companies engaging in corporate inversions saying that one proposed inversion was “disgusting” and that “politicians should be ashamed” for allowing it to happen. Despite this rhetoric, the Trump Administration is considering rolling back critical anti-inversion rules as part of its broad regulatory review of recently issued Treasury Department regulations.
In the latest example of how the tax code has been abused and distorted, the Cheesecake Factory is claiming the manufacturing tax deduction, apparently for manufacturing cheesecakes, burgers, and other treats.
The Nike Corporation’s annual financial disclosure of income tax payments is always notable for two recurring trends: the Oregon-based company’s steady shifting of profits into offshore tax havens, and Nike’s apparent effort to conceal how it’s achieving this tax avoidance. This year’s report, released earlier this week, is no exception.
The latest annual financial report released by shipping giant FedEx is yet another reminder that where you stand often depends on where you sit.
The report shows that last year FedEx paid a 7.5 percent federal income tax rate on nearly $3.6 billion of U.S. pretax income and this low rate is due in part to accelerated depreciation, a provision in the tax code that allows the company to write off capital investments faster than they wear out. It’s not surprising, then, that FedEx’s leadership is currently promoting a tax plan that would drop the company’s statutory tax rate even more, and allow it to write off capital investments even faster.
Rather than being known for its pioneering pharmaceuticals, Mylan is increasingly becoming infamous for its pioneering tax avoidance strategies. In 2015, Mylan used an inversion to claim that it is now based in the Netherlands for tax purposes. It is a Dutch company only on paper because ownership of the company was mostly unchanged and it continues to operate largely out of the United States. This maneuver has allowed the company to avoid millions in taxes on its earnings in the U.S. and abroad.
But that’s not the end of Mylan’s innovation when it comes to tax planning. A new report by Reuters found that Mylan is using a surprising new technique for dodging taxes: investing in coal refineries.
Speaker Paul Ryan today correctly outlined some of working people’s concerns, including the desire for more good jobs and access to the training required to secure those jobs. But his bottom line policy prescriptions for addressing the concerns of working people are the same old trickle-down economic policies that time after time have proven to primarily benefit the wealthy.
The debate over the so-called border adjustment tax (or BAT) took center stage this week when the House Ways and Means Committee held its first hearing on the topic. Despite strong support by the House Republican leadership and the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady, the proposal faced an onslaught of criticism during the hearing from invited witnesses and members of both parties.
Today the House Ways and Means Committee will hold its first tax reform hearing of 2017, which marks the official opening of the tax reform debate in Congress. True tax reform, if the committee sought to achieve it, could create more jobs and ensure companies are paying their fair share by cracking down on the massive offshore tax avoidance that companies engage in. Unfortunately, the panel of witnesses for today’s hearing is largely made up of representatives of various major corporations that are beneficiaries of the loopholes in our current corporate tax laws. Given this, it seems likely that these panelists will not push for a fairer corporate tax code, but rather a code that allows them to avoid even more taxes and incentivizes moving more jobs offshore.
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.
The most complimentary thing that can be said about the corporate tax changes outlined by President Trump earlier this week is that they weren’t scribbled on a napkin. Unlike supply-side…
States 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,…
President Donald Trump has promised to release new details Wednesday on what he says could be “the biggest tax cut we’ve ever had.” While much is unclear about the shape…
Profitable Fortune 500 companies in a range of economic sectors have been remarkably successful in manipulating the tax system to avoid paying even a dime in tax on billions of dollars in U.S. profits. This ITEP report examines a select, diverse group of 15 corporations’ tax situations to shed light on the widespread nature of corporate tax avoidance. As a group, these companies paid no federal income tax on $21 billion in profits in 2016, and they paid almost no federal income tax on $111 billion in profits over the past five years. All but one received federal tax rebates in 2016, and almost all paid exceedingly low rates over five years.
An Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy analysis finds that, on average, companies that are opposed to the Border Adjustment Tax pay higher tax rates than a coalition of companies…
It’s often noted that corporate tax reform is difficult, in part, because it creates so many winners and losers. As Congress turns its attention to federal corporate tax reform, the…
For years, the number one tax policy talking point from corporate lobbyists has been the claim that the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. The…
Profitable corporations are subject to a 35 percent federal income tax rate on their U.S. profits. But many corporations pay far less, or nothing at all, because of the many tax loopholes and special breaks they enjoy. This report documents just how successful many Fortune 500 corporations have been at using loopholes and special breaks over the past eight years. As lawmakers look to reform the corporate tax code, this report shows that the focus of any overhaul should be on closing loopholes rather than on cutting tax rates.
In recent weeks, the Republican congressional leadership’s effort to introduce a comprehensive tax reform bill has increasingly faced opposition from major business groups and skeptical lawmakers from across the aisle.…
In the summer of 2016, House Republicans released a blueprint for tax reform that is likely to be used as the starting point for major tax legislation in 2017. One of the most radical provisions is a proposal to shift the corporate tax code from a residence-based to a destination-based system through applying a border adjustment on exports and imports. This proposal has major flaws that would make it a challenge to implement. Further, it is inherently regressive, rife with loopholes and would violate international agreements.
Tim Cook is a persuasive CEO. In a wide-ranging interview published earlier this week in the Washington Post, he discussed his vision for the company, thoughts about leadership succession, and…
Many of America’s Most Profitable Corporations Pay Little or No Federal Income Taxes; Multinationals Pay Higher Rates Abroad Than in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett made headlines by publicly decrying the stark inequity between his own effective federal tax rate (about 17 percent, by his estimate) and…
A new analysis shows that Massey Energy, which owned the Upper Big Branch mine where 29 West Virginia miners were killed last week, paid an average of 5.6 percent of…
This study details which companies have benefitted the most from the decline in corporate taxes over the past three years, and which have been less fortunate. It also measures the…