Following up earlier posts on Big Business and dodging taxes, 55 U.S. corporations that paid no federal corporate income tax last year have spent a combined $450 million on political campaign contributions and lobbying—including for lower taxes—according to a report.
'The Price of Zero', cites figures showing that at least 55 U.S. corporations avoided paying any corporate income tax in 2020 on a combined pretax income of $40.5 billion.
"Had these companies paid a tax rate of 21%—the current federal rate—they would have owed the federal government $8.5 billion," the report notes. "Not only did these companies not pay taxes, but nearly all also got money back from the government, receiving $3.5 billion in tax rebates, bringing the total 2020 tax giveaways for these 55 companies to $12 billion."
The companies invested a combined $408 million in lobbying and $42 million in campaign contributions over the past three election cycles. FedEx spent the most of any of the 55 companies—$71 million on lobbying and campaign contributions—between 2015 and 2020. Charter Communications ($64 million), American Electric Power ($42 million), Duke Energy ($37 million), and Textron ($22 million) round out the top five spenders.
Forty-seven of the 55 companies analyzed in the paper reported spending on lobbying at some point during the five-year period. Thirty-five of those firms acknowledged lobbying specifically on taxation issues. Twenty-two of the companies lobbied for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), Republican legislation signed into law by Trump. The TCJA lowered the federal corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%, enabled companies to write off certain capital investments for five years, and made it easier for U.S. corporations to avoid paying taxes on foreign income. The TCJA gave more than 80% of tax cuts to the nation's richest 1% while raising taxes on over 90 million middle-class families and encouraging the outsourcing of U.S.-based jobs.
"The lobbying, campaign contributions, and tax avoidance by these 55 companies is a never-ending cycle in which the companies spend to win tax breaks, then use the money saved from those breaks to try to get more," the report concludes.