Thursday, November 3, 2011

Big corporations pay a lower tax rate

You often hear people argue that the United States’ corporate tax rate of 35 percent is much higher than other nations, but don’t be fooled. Thanks to loopholes, the actual tax rate is much lower—about 18.5 percent according to a survey of the 280 largest publicly traded companies by the left-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice. About a quarter of the companies paid less than 10 percent in taxes over the past three years, while 30 companies—including Boeing, Wells Fargo, and GE—appeared to pay no taxes whatsoever.

I don't actually have a clean take on this, though I thought it was important to note. It could be an argument for tax reform—lowering the rate but removing the loopholes. On the other hand: The loopholes always seep back in, and the new lowered rate would probably be seen as the ceiling, meaning that eventually the government would be deprived of necessary revenue.

And on the other other hand: Maybe the loopholes aren't always bad. Boeing didn't pay taxes, for example, because it used tax credits for creating 9,000 jobs. Would those jobs exist without the tax credits? I don't know; I suspect they probably would. But the incentive probably doesn't hurt, either.

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