One dozen companies paid no taxes over the most recent three-year period.
According to a study from Citizens for Tax Justice, the 12 companies paid an effective tax rate of negative 1.5 percent on $171 billion in profits. In the process, they reaped $62.4 billion in tax subsidies over the 2008-10 period.
Had these 12 companies paid the full 35 percent corporate tax, their federal income taxes over the three years would have totaled $59.9 billion. Instead, they enjoyed so many tax subsidies that they paid $62.4 billion less than that, according to the study.
The companies are: American Electric Power, Boeing, Dupont, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, General Electric, Honeywell International, IBM, United Technologies, Verizon Communications, Wells Fargo and Yahoo.
"The analysis serves to illuminate the current corporate tax debate in Washington, DC, and demonstrates that real corporate tax reform is long overdue," the group asserts in its report. It said a full report will be presented later in the year.
From 2008 through 2010, these 12 companies reported $171 billion in pretax US profits, according to the group. But altogether, their federal income taxes were negative $2.5 billion.
All but two of the dozen companies enjoyed at least one no-tax year over the 2008-10 period, despite reporting substantial pretax US profits in those no-tax years.
Eight of the 12 companies reported net tax benefits over the full three-year period.
The "highest tax" company on the list is Exxon Mobil. It paid an effective three-year tax rate of only14.2 percent. That works out to 60 percent below the 35 percent rate that companies are supposed to pay.
Over the past two years, Exxon Mobil's net tax on its $9.9 billion in US pretax profits was just $39 million, an effective tax rate of only 0.4 percent.
Over the 2008-10 period GE enjoyed $4.7 billion in tax benefits on top of its $7.7 billion in pretax US profits.