According to their financial reports, 55 of the country’s largest corporations collectively made $40.5 billion in pretax income in 2020, yet managed to pay absolutely nothing in federal corporate income taxes – zero dollars. They include Dish Network, FedEx, First Energy, HP, Nike, and Penske Automotive Group. These 55 corporations would have paid a total of $8.5 billion for the year had they paid the current statutory federal tax rate of 21 percent. Instead, they received $3.5 billion in tax rebates.
For decades, the biggest and most profitable corporations have found ways to shelter their profits from federal income taxation. Reports by the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) documented such tax avoidance since the Reagan administration’s misguided tax-cutting experiment. An analysis of 258 corporations that were consistently profitable during the eight-year period 2008 through 2015 showed that federal tax avoidance was rampant even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). As a group, they paid an effective federal income tax rate of 21.2 percent over the eight-year period, slightly over half the prevailing tax rate of 35 percent during that time.