US Corporate Taxes Higher Than Rest of World?

The Republicans have rolled out their tax “reform”.

As predicted earlier in “Trickle-Down Returns to Enrich the Rich – updated” there are ample claims that their plan will boost economic performance for the vast majority of Americans. Additionally we are hearing more about how American corporate tax rates are the highest in the world. As usual with politicians, this is one of those truths that is a shell game. The tax rate on the books is actually higher than most. But the amount of taxes paid by American corporations is not.  NPR did a fact check on this claim back in August and re-discovered the well known fact that American corporations actually pay taxes that are consistent with most wealthy nations.1 And, corporations’ share of all tax payments has declined by 50% since the 1950s and ’60s.

More In Depth about Corporate Taxes

Earlier this year the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy released a report that goes into much more detail about how much corporations are paying and how they are avoiding paying. “The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth: Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies, 2008 to 2015” 2 offers a detailed look at the tax strategies of 258 of the largest most profitable companies in America.

Tax Subsidies to Corporations

One chart, reproduced here, shows the 25 companies which have received $286 billion in tax subsidies between 2008 and 2015. The total tax subsidies for the entire 288 companies studied amounted to $528 billion.

Stock Option Right Offs

A particularly egregious example of how corporate chieftains line their pockets while avoiding taxes is the tax loop hole that allows corporations to right off the cost of stock options for executives.


  1.  “FACT CHECK: Does The U.S. Have The Highest Corporate Tax Rate In The World?” Accessed November 3, 2017.
  2. Gardner, Matthew, Robert McIntyre, and Phillips. “The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies, 2008 to 2015.” Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, March 2017.