Top 10 Corporations Cashing In on Uncle Sam’s Tax Code

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Many people would agree that the nation’s tax code is a bottomless pit of politics and controversy. Some argue that large corporations need to pay more taxes in order to satisfy their fair share, while others contend that the current corporate tax rate is already one of the highest in the world. Either way, the U.S. tax code in its current state allows some corporations to receive billions of dollars in tax subsidies.

Over a period of five years between 2008 and 2012, there were 288 Fortune 500 companies that were profitable in each year. As a group, they paid an effective federal income tax rate of 19.4 percent over the five-year period, according to a new report from Citizens for Tax Justice. That is well below the often-discussed 35 percent corporate tax rate. Twenty-six of the corporations, including names like Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and General Electric (NYSE:GE), paid less than nothing in aggregate federal income taxes over the entire timeframe.

“There is plenty of blame to share for today’s sad situation,” said the report. “Corporate apologists will correctly point out that loopholes and tax breaks that allow low-tax corporations to minimize or eliminate their income taxes are generally legal, and that they stem from laws passed over the years by Congress and signed by various Presidents. But that does not mean that low tax corporations bear no responsibility. The tax laws were not enacted in a vacuum; they were adopted in response to relentless corporate lobbying, threats and campaign support.”

Tax subsidies for the 288 companies totaled a remarkable $364 billion. However, almost half of the tax-subsidy dollars went to only 25 companies, and the top 10 each received more than $5 billion. Let’s take a look at the top 10 companies receiving the most help from Uncle Sam between 2008 and 2012.

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10. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT)

Total tax subsidies: $5.1 billion

Years with zero or less in federal income taxes: 0

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9. PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE:PNC)

Total tax subsidies: $5.3 billion

Years with zero or less in federal income taxes: 2

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8. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM)

Total tax subsidies: $5.9 billion

Years with zero or less in federal income taxes: 0

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7. Boeing (NYSE:BA)

Total tax subsidies: $7.4 billion

Years with zero or less in federal income taxes: 4

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6. Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM)

Total tax subsidies: $8.7 billion

Years with zero or less in federal income taxes: 1

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5. Verizon Communications

Total tax subsidies: $11.1 billion

Years with zero or less in federal income taxes: 2

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4. General Electric

Total tax subsidies: $12.7 billion

Years with zero or less in federal income taxes: 3

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3. International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM)

Total tax subsidies: $13.2 billion

Years with zero or less in federal income taxes: 0

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2. AT&T (NYSE:T)

Total tax subsidies: $19.2 billion

Years with zero or less in federal income taxes: 1

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1. Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC)

Total tax subsidies: $21.6 billion

Years with zero or less in federal income taxes: 1

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