You may be among the 95 percent of Americans who believe it’s their civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes, but sending a portion of your salary to the IRS still smarts. Even for the more than 100 million who will receive refunds, no day is more agonizing than April 15.
If only we could all be corporations. Although they all start with a flat 35 percent federal tax rate, most employ a team of clever accountants to whittle down their liability—sometimes to nothing at all.
After taking advantage of credits, exemptions, and offshore tax havens, U.S. corporations get away with paying an average of less than 13 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office. What’s more, the GAO found that more than half of them reported owing no federal taxes in at least one year between 1998 and 2005.
According to a study by the advocacy group Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), 26 Fortune 500 corporations paid no federal corporate income tax over the most recent five-year period. In fact, according to CTJ, they generated so many tax breaks that they reported negative taxes and often received a rebate check. As procrastinators rush to post offices and computers to file by deadline, let us pause—in anger, jealousy, or admiration—to recognize the corporations who manage to avoid the taxman.
Corporation and 2008-2012 Rate
1. Pepco Holdings -33.0%
2. PG&E Corp. -16.7%
3. NiSource -13.6%
4. Wisconsin Energy -13.5%
5. General Electric -11.1%
6. CenterPoint Energy -8.5%
7. Integrys Energy Group -8.2%
8. Atmos Energy -7.7%
9. Tenet Healthcare -6.0%
10. American Electric Power -5.8%
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