Trade

Corporate Tax Rates Fall to 11 Percent, Many Pay No Taxes Under GOP Law

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Trump and the Republican party said we needed to cut the corporate tax rate because America's taxes were too high and it put American businesses at a disadvantage, but American firms never paid the full tax rate and now they're paying far less than they did before.

The GOP's tax cuts lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, but America's top 400 largest corporations paid a rate of about 11 percent in the last year.

From the Washington Post:

In the first year of the law, the amount corporations paid in federal taxes on their incomes — their “effective rate” — was 11.3 percent on average, possibly its lowest level in more than three decades, according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-leaning think tank.

From 2008 to 2015, under the previous tax code, the corporations’ effective rate was about 21 percent, according to the ITEP’s prior research.

The report also found that 91 corporations in the Fortune 500, many worth billions of dollars, paid no federal taxes last year.

Corporations are able to pay lower effective rates -- or no rate at all -- by taking advantage of tax breaks, subsidies, and loopholes. And the GOP's late-2017 tax cut didn't close any loopholes; it opened whole new ones.

Rolling back these tax cuts won't be easy even if Democrats retake control of both the White House and the Senate. Nothing is easy in Congress or government, but rolling back tax cuts is especially difficult. The best we can probably hope for is a partial rollback or new taxes to replace the old ones.

Before we even get to that point, however, the Democratic candidate for president is going to have to make the case to voters that the GOP's tax cuts were never necessary and have not produced significant gains for anyone but wealthy shareholders who were already the richest people in the world.

We've lowered the effective corporate tax rate to about 11 percent and what do we have to show for it? Job creation is lower than it was under President Obama's "American carnage," as Trump once called it, and so is economic growth. All we really have to show for it is an exploding deficit.

I don't think the Democratic candidate for president should spend a great deal of time talking about the deficit given that their own hypothetical policies will require deficit spending but, if we're going to go there, I think it's worth pointing out that deficit spending is okay if we spend it on things that we actually need; things that return value to taxpayers. The GOP's tax cuts for the rich have exploded the deficit for virtually nothing in exchange. It's just a fiscal void that we've poured $1.5 trillion into. That money has vanished into the phantom zone and will never be returned to the public.

Republicans would probably say these tax cuts have been returned to the public in form of higher wages, but wages have not grown any more than they would have even without a tax cut. Wages actually declined for most of 2018.

  • muselet

    Cutting the corporate tax rate had nothing to do with international competitiveness. US tax rates were relatively high, but the loopholes baked into the tax code meant US corporations were paying no more than Irish companies (to pick but one example).

    Cutting corporate taxes was always meant to pump more money upward and into the pockets of institutional investors. There weren’t huge increases in employment or wages or spending on R&D because of the cuts.

    If the Ds try to roll back these foolish tax cuts—or replace them with new taxes—the outcry from the Rs and their donors will be deafening. The deficit scolds will emerge from their dormant state like cicadas and start moaning about taxandspendliberals! and fiscalresponsibility! and their message will be amplified by our glorious news media.

    Depressing, it is.

    –alopecia

  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    I think it’s worth pointing out that deficit spending is okay if we spend it on things that we actually need; things that return value to taxpayers. The GOP’s tax cuts for the rich have exploded the deficit for virtually nothing in exchange.

    https://i.imgur.com/ZBbbhtQ.gif