Monday, March 13, 2017

The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth: Corporate Tax Avoidance By Fortune 500 Companies, 2008 To 2015

“There is history the way Tolstoy imagined it, as a great, slow-moving weather system in which even tsars and generals are just leaves before the storm. And there is history the way Hollywood imagines it, as a single story line in which the right move by the tsar or the wrong move by the general changes everything. Most of us, deep down, are probably Hollywood people. We like to invent “what if” scenarios--what if x had never happened, what if y had happened instead?--because we like to believe that individual decisions make a difference: that, if not for x, or if only there had been y, history might have plunged forever down a completely different path. Since we are agents, we have an interest in the efficacy of agency.”  

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Visual Capitalist – This Map Shows U.S. States Renamed for Countries With Similar GDPs – “We’ve previously tried to put America’s $18 trillion economy in perspective using different maps – and we’ve also shown it in the context of the world’s $74 trillion economy. Today’s map, which comes from the Carpe Diem blog at the AEI, provides a similar perspective. Renaming States Based on Similar GDPs – The U.S. economy is so big that all of the individual states are comparable to entire countries. Not surprisingly – big states like California, New York, and Texas are very similar in size to other formidable economies like France, South Korea, and Canada. Perhaps even more interesting, however, is that even small states are similar to the size of countries. Wisconsin is about the size of Malaysia, and Louisiana is comparable to the Philippines. Even Vermont, a state with a population of 626,000 people and the smallest state economy, is approximately the size of Bahrain. It’s pretty incredible to think about the United States this way – and it helps put the economic power of the full country in real context.”

This chart book is an update and expansion of CBO’s 2005 report that examined statutory and effective corporate tax rates for the United States and member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Group of 7 between 1982 and 2003. This report focuses mainly on the 2012 tax rates in countries that are members of the G20. CBO expanded the analysis to include average tax rates, which were estimated on the basis of information reported for income and taxes paid by corporations in a given year. For both this report and the 2005 report, effective corporate tax rates were derived from simulations based on certain features of the various countries’ tax systems.”

Leandra Lederman, Death, Taxes, and a Beach Read (Surly Subgroup) “Some marketer apparently did his or her homework and identified me as someone with an interest in both tax and chick lit!”

News from the Profession.  Donald Trump’s Quest to Put H&R Block Out of Business Looking Like a Total Failure (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern)

News from the Profession. The Best Line of BS I Ever Heard During My Time in Public Accounting (Rachel Andujar, Going Concern)

Congressional Budget Office, International Comparisons of Corporate Income Tax Rates:

In the United States, the top federal statutory corporate income tax rate (the rate set by law that applies to the highest corporate income tax bracket) has been 35 percent since 1993. Most corporate income is taxed at that rate. With state taxes added in, the top statutory rate is even higher; on average, that combined rate was 39.1 percent in 2012, among the highest in the world.

Complaining that the United States has one of the world’s highest corporate tax levels, President Trump and congressional Republicans have repeatedly vowed to shrink it.

Yet if the level is so high, why have so many companies’ income tax bills added up to zero?

That’s what a new analysis of 258 profitable Fortune 500 companies that earned more than $3.8 trillion in profits showed [The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth: Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies, 2008 to 2015].

18 CorpsAlthough the top corporate rate is 35 percent, hardly any company actually pays that. The report, by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-leaning research group in Washington, found that 100 of them — nearly 40 percent — paid no taxes in at least one year between 2008 and 2015. Eighteen, including General Electric, International Paper, and PG&E, incurred a total federal income tax bill of less than zero over the entire eight-year period — meaning they received rebates. The institute used the companies’ own regulatory filings to compute their tax rates. ...

How does a billion-dollar company pay no taxes?

Companies take advantage of an array of tax loopholes and aggressive strategies that enable them to legally avoid paying what they owe. The institute’s report cites these examples: