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[CHART] U.S. Corporations That Pay No Taxes

Every working American is required to pay income taxes, but American companies get away with paying zero

This year, the IRS collected roughly $1.4 trillion from U.S. taxpayers on April 15. Even individuals exempt from the federal income tax are subject to payroll taxes – and even the 14% exempt from both still must pay a sales tax.

CorporationsBut 11 Standard & Poor's 500 Index giants paid no income tax in 2014, even though they reported a profit for the year according to USA Today. Forty-three more were at least partially exempt.

That means there are a record 54 U.S. corporations that pay no taxes or are at least partially exempt. That's more than twice the amount five years ago. Most of them actually got tax refunds.

On top of that, there are currently 13 Fortune 500 companies that don't pay taxes. We are talking about some of the biggest businesses in the nation. CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), which earned $1.8 billion in 2014, paid no federal tax, and received a $235 million tax refund. (If you look back at the last five years, one more Fortune 500 giant makes the list. General Electric Co. [NYSE: GE] made $33 billion from 2010-2014, paid no taxes, and received $1.4 billion in refunds.)

By keeping their cash parked overseas, companies like CBS avoid triggering U.S. corporate taxes. Instead, they take advantage of foreign tax structures that are much more forgiving. You see, according to Cato Institute research, the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate among major industrial nations. Its effective tax rate of 35.6% on new corporate investment is nearly twice the average rate for the 90 countries studied.

As these giants dodge taxes, it's no surprise their contribution toward the nation's total tax revenue has declined.

In fiscal 2014, 10.6% ($320.7 billion) of the federal government's total revenue came from corporate income taxes, according to Pew Research Center. Comparatively, corporate income tax accounted for between a quarter and a third of federal revenue in the 1950s.

Let's take a look at exactly which companies wriggled their way out of paying income taxes in 2014…

Join the conversation. Click here to jump to comments…

  1. Patricia Romansky | May 24, 2015

    Who the buck doesn't know that large Corporations contribute big money to the candidate that they want to win? Not rocket science.

  2. Steve | May 25, 2015

    If a corporation owes a tax, they collect it from people(us). Every dollar the US Government has ultimately comes from working people.

  3. Timothy Walbridge | May 25, 2015

    Is the problem that these companies "park" money overseas in order to avoid an exorbitant U.S. Corporate tax burden/structure, or is the problem the excessive and non-competitive U.S. corporate tax burden/structure.

    I'm as American as anyone, Honorably Discharged Marine, Vietnam Veteran, former Reserve Police Officer, father, grandfather, and taxpayer. If I were one of these companies, I'd take steps to circumvent an over-spending an over-taxing U.S. government, also.

    Why not incentivize these companies via a competitive reduction in corporate tax rates and bring those dollars back to America to promote the economy, growth and jobs. At least that would be done with "real" dollars, not just printed ones.

    • Right View | May 26, 2015

      Timothy, millions of american agreed with you, these companies avoiding
      taxes is part of the problems why we have the giant deficits.

      To make it fair and affordable to all companies Congress must require for
      the companies that bring jobs home pay Flat 15%, and the ones that
      do not bring jobs home pay Flat 30% on income taxes.

      • Tara Clarke | May 26, 2015

        Timothy and Right View, I *highly highly highly* recommend you check out this FOX Business interview of our Chief Investment Strategist:

        http://moneymorning.com/videos/apple-tax-strategy-whos-at-fault/

        Keith talks about the gridlock in Congress over corporate taxes, companies' responsibility to shareholders to take advantage of more favorable treatment overseas, etc. Many of the points you both discuss above, especially beginning around the 1 minute mark, but the whole thing is good.

        Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments!

    • Marlin | May 26, 2015

      Timothy – You are spot on. Capital ALWAYS goes to where it is treated best. The fact that we have a federal government (and emulated by state and city governments) completely out of control with regards to spending and influence peddling, does not mean that companies have to be so stupid as to participate. There is much talk about "greed". The only truly greedy ones in our society are those in the government who continually need more and more. Staying away from allowing this greed to be fed more than it already is shows wisdom on the part of businesses.

    • Valentin Martinez | September 30, 2015

      Nobody likes to pay taxes.however everyone should pay their fair share.no excuses.if rich corporations dont have to pay taxes why should anyone.

      • b | April 19, 2016

        Thats dumb. Infrastructure is a good reason, courts is another, maybe school and fire departments. These are reason why people should pay taxes.

        When you say rich corporations, you make it sound like it's a person. IF there was no corporate tax, the corporations would #1 stay in the US, #2 have money to spend on US goods, services, and labor.

        So now you ask, but now they have even more money. This money you speak of cannot just sit there… Someone will want to spend it, and that is my friend, when the tax will take effect. So one way or another the money will be paid to a person which will then in turn be taxed as income tax. We need rich well to do companies that can drive technology to create new jobs and explore space and the new frontier versus needing to have a war to generate economy on the scale the we need it to be.

        All poor companies don't have R&D or hiring people, they are too busy trying to scrape by and not paying there employees very well. You need to put yourself in the shoes of a company and trying to be the best… It is really hard when someone want to crush you. What horrible is one company has a group of politicians in its pocket so they structure taxes to beat down competitors. No corporate tax would eliminate this type of corruption. Maybe even help eliminate lobbying to some degree.

        • Bill | May 20, 2016

          This is what TPP is all about, crucifying the SME's and giving all to Corporations. Small Business will become extinct under these 'Treaties' as Corporations smash all competition.
          In the EU they use 'red tape' to heap rules on SME's, this cost's them as it hits overheads. Under these 'Treaties' we'll all be controlled by Corporations and Banks making Laws and rules thru their Tribunals.

    • gilbert Lucero | February 22, 2016

      The issue is that most of these companies take millions in corporate subsidies from the government, yet refuse to pay taxes.

  4. bob chapman | May 25, 2015

    NO corporation, big business or small business plays federal income taxes. They have no printing press unlike the US govt and the Fed. Any money that make its way to the US Treasury via businesses of any size is only money given to the business for goods and services. My solution to what I believe is the great inequality in the federal income tax system is to do away with all federal income taxes and create a simple sales tax on very thing bought by anyone for all goods and services. The sales tax would be a % of all goods and services. May be as low a 1% to 3 %, I do not know. We are so hung up in tax deduction and the redistribution of wealth by the most inefficient means that nothing can be done or wants to be done for real, only in perception. Let us say, hypothetically, the the federal government could be run on 3% of all goods and services. What constitutes goods and services? All moneys paid by any entity, person, business or charity for anything and everything. All compensation paid by business, charities and governments would pay a 3% tax for that service. All medical costs add 3%. All legal costs add 3%. It is simple. For business or man on the street, you spend money add 3%. Not x% of what you earned. Just remember McDonald's nor GE has ever paid one cent in income taxes. They are just the middle man.

    • G 13 Man | May 28, 2015

      We are so hung up in tax deductions , agreed
      charities and churches would cry foul tho , no deduction ,
      tough ,
      if a cause is worthy , people will support it
      the tax on products , services , would have to be not manipulated by the conglomerates and politicians to promote a balanced free trade !

  5. Don | May 26, 2015

    No company pays taxes. ONLY consumers pay taxes. The cost is passed on to us.

  6. JAMES W LORD | May 26, 2015

    A SALE TAX WOULD BE MUCH BETTER THAN AN INCCOME TAX. INCOME TAXES ARE
    ONLY FOR THE POOR AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO HIRE IT DONE. LAWYERS AND POLITICIANS WONT STAND
    FOR THIS. WHAT WE NEED IS A NATIONWIDE RIOT. GET RID OF ALL GOV POLITICIANS AND START OVER AGAIN

  7. Micronesian | May 30, 2015

    Out here in the remote islands we enjoy and benefited from the corporate tax and I hope it continues without changes to U.S tax laws. Thanks to the U.S taxpayer, we are one in a way.

  8. sionetamasi, ikimata | May 30, 2015

    … NOT PAYING TAX?… that's bad!!…

    …the worst case scenario??… when they collected the "refunds"…

    …thanks Money Morning…

    … Sionetamasi Ikimata > (NZ)

  9. WA1 | May 31, 2015

    The problem is not one of Government, but of certain people, who ask for a particular sector, industry or service to be regulated.

    This requires law, which requires politicians. Monitoring these regulations requires lawyers, judges, federal officers, policemen, jails, police-vehicles, arms, munitions, badges etc.
    Once you have regulation, it requires agencies like the FDA, EPA, DoJ, FBI, , DSS, DHS, NSA et-al

    Those who want others to take responsibility for their own short-comings – you know who you are. YOU are ultimately responsible.

    When you stand on your own two feet, when your neighbours, friends, acquaintances and colleagues assist you, and you them, then all the machinery of government largely disappears.

    What remains are just the army and the other military branches.

    W.

  10. Fay(Faegheh)Milanipour | June 4, 2015

    Thank you

  11. Toush Toush | June 22, 2015

    Folks, they are ALL a bunch of thieves.

    Don't you get it???

    Congress is too busy giving THEMSELVES: pay raises, tax breaks, incentives, privileges, exemptions from ObamaCare and the like, free everything, taking bribes, breaking the law, etc., etc., etc.!!!

    Don't you get it???

    AND WHAT DO YOU DO EVERY TIME ELECTION SEASON COMES AROUND???

    WE ARE NOTHING BUT DAMN FOOLS.

    "PEOPLE LISTEN TO THE RICH; THEY PRAY FOR THE POOR."

  12. Walt | September 20, 2015

    Every one of these comments feeds into the so called "free market" model that brought the U.S. financial sector to its knees. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over & expecting different results. Of course capital will go where the least restrictions on it are. Instead of leaving the people in the wake of all this cheap labor in unregulated slave economies, what we really need is to kick the corporations out- either force them to cut ties with the U.S. completely, or require them to keep their money here, and PAY FAIR LIVING WAGES. I can't believe you people. Study history beyond the WSJ for once. A good read is Naomi Klein's book, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." Open your mind.

    • SilentAudience | April 27, 2016

      What do you expect? Everyone here is going out of there way to defend these multinational corporations whom have spent decades avoiding paying any taxes yet reap benefits through income taxes through the backs of millions of hard-working Americans then spin the web of lies that's called "trickle down" economics misleading the people. Until we remove corporations from having any influence on our politicians and make them stop buying them off we'll continue to see our economy's decline.

      Just take a look at the Cayman Islands and Panama where they hide hundreds of billions of untaxed dollars from the public eye while turning around thinking of any excuse in the book to not pay taxes. They are robbing us blind and then continuing with this illusion that this money hoarding is somehow beneficial to our society. We must stop this cancer before it's too late.

    • Bill | May 20, 2016

      Quite right Walt, Corporations are the only beneficiaries of Free Trade, at the expense of local jobs. They send manufacturing over-seas to slave labour countries, then allow it to come back 'free' to be sold on our 'fixed market'. Then have the audacity to not pay taxes!
      We should place a levy on all cheap imports, repatriate all outsourced manufacturing, this will return jobs and increase the Economy.
      Next we should take money creation away from banks, only allowing Government to create and print money. Then you'll hear the screams.

  13. Norman Jaquemot | October 7, 2015

    The problem is not the corporate entities. Greed is the main problem. The " rat race " as depicted in Mad's June '69 issue shows a man running after a tray of money , just like the dogs races down in florida after the rabbit on the ramp. The thing is, greed leads to exploitation, schemes, and what not to gain more and more. If any activity leading to population deprieving would be considered a criminal offense, lots of companies would pay their fair share. But lobbyist around the heads of government make sure that they can obliterate from having to hand out tax money. But in my point of view, there's nothing that can be done about it, since it's been going on since the dawn of mankind: " If there's two men on this planet, one will obviously take profit from the other. " Responsable wealth " was an initiative took by some of the top millionaires to give back some of the wealth back to the government in order to help maintain a good quality of live for the population, but who knows where that program has gone to. Maybe it should be reimplemented, because it would probably give a chance to an overly taxed population. And I hope that the " shit walks money talks " attitude is no longer accepted on Wall street. It would only show how ill-mannered our elite would be.

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