The more money American companies make, the better they are at not paying tax on it. In fact it’s not uncommon for them to make billions in profits and end up with tax rebates. Many pay lower effective tax rates than their very lowest paid employees – yet corporate executives complain that taxes are still too high.
For sheer nerve, it’s tough to beat the Bank of America. In 2012, the Bank had more than 300 separate subsidiaries - or shells in the shell game - incorporated in offshore tax havens. These included the Cayman Islands and other places with no corporate taxes.
Company founder Bill Gates is one of the most renowned philanthropists in the world, giving away huge sums to good causes. But his company is a big-time baddie when it comes to paying tax.
Citigroup was broke after the 2008 financial crisis, before Washington came to the rescue. After 5 years of lawyering they agreed to a $2.2 billion settlement to cover damages caused by the company’s lending abuses.
GE is a true conglomerate that’s way more than just appliances. Ranked 26th in the Fortune 500, it’s into everything from weapons to finance to health care. It’s also a corporate triple threat, maximising profits while stiffing the American government and workforce.
If Acrobatic Accounting were an Olympic sport, Pfizer would be at the top of the podium. The pharmaceutical giant made $43 billion from 2010 to 2012, and paid literally zero tax on that amount.
From 2010-12, the energy giant managed to get an income tax rate of just 15 percent, which, it must said, is way more than most of its peers.
Boeing plays hardball to squeeze out as much public money as they can. The company threatened to move its 777 passenger jet project out of Washington in 2013, inspiring the state government to cough up $8.7 billion in tax breaks.
Apple reportedly keeps $138 billion abroad, an amount which would generate $45 billion in taxes. A Senate committee charged that Apple uses "ghost companies," incorporated in Ireland as "a conduit for shifting billions of dollars in income from the U.S.".
Verizon are an example of yet another accounting miracle from a communications company. From 2008 to 2013,Verizon made over $42 billion in U.S. profits and got a tidy little tax refund of $732 million. Effective tax rate: minus 2%.
A recent report by Americans for Tax Fairness claims Walmart keeps $21.4 billion in profits offshore, safe from those nasty federal taxes most Americans pay. They are also masters at using a loophole allowing them to deduct executive pay increases if they're deemed to be performance-based.
The famous import/export company received a $135 million tax refund from the IRS in 2011. That was from U.S profits of $2.7 billion. The company made $6 billion over the last three years but provisions for writing off the cost of new equipment, in this case, airplanes gave FedEx a $2.1 billion taxpayer subsidy.
Drugmaker Merck had a negative effective tax rate during the second quarter of 2013. It got money back despite the fact that its income before taxes soared 52% to $1.9 billion during the quarter.
There are good corporate citizens across the country paying their fair share in taxes and still making enough to grow their business and please their shareholders. Corning just isn’t one of them.