Many Profitable Corporations Pay Zero Federal Income Taxes, GAO Finds

WASHINGTON, April 13 – Large, profitable American corporations paid just 14 percent of their profits in federal income taxes on average from 2008 through 2012 and about one-fifth of them paid nothing at all each year, according to a new study prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders by the Government Accountability Office.

“There is something profoundly wrong in America when one out of five profitable corporations pay nothing in federal income taxes,” Sanders said. “Large corporations cannot continue to get more tax breaks when children in America go hungry. We need real tax reform to ensure that the most profitable corporations in America pay their fair share in taxes. That means closing corporate tax loopholes to raise the revenue necessary to rebuild America and create millions of jobs.”

Last year, Sanders, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced the Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act to prevent profitable corporations from receiving tax breaks by sheltering income in Panama, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and other offshore tax havens. 

According to a 2015 report by Citizens for Tax Justice, most Fortune 500 corporations have established offshore subsidiaries.

The percentage of large, profitable American corporations that paid nothing at all in each of the years studied by the Government Accountability Office ranged from 17.9 percent in 2008 to 24.1 percent in 2011. “Of those large corporations whose financial statements reported a profit, 19.5 percent paid no federal income tax [in 2012],” according to the report.

Large corporations use a variety of deductions and loopholes to pay far less than the federal corporate income tax rate of 35 percent, including maneuvers that shift profits overseas.

“At a time when Republicans tell us that we don't have enough money to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure or provide universal childcare, maybe, just maybe we should stop allowing huge corporations to pay nothing in federal income taxes,” Sanders said. “Corporate greed is destroying the fabric of America. It must come to an end.” 

To read the report, click here.