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S&P 500 corporations not paying taxes

Roughly 60 profitable S&P 500 companies paid zero federal income dollars in taxes in 2018. The corporations were profitable, more than likely had highly paid CEOs and executives working there, yet still paid zero dollars. Even Delta Airlines, General Motors, and Amazon, which had a net income of over 10 billion dollars last year, paid no taxes in 2018 according to a study from ITEP.

This means that those S&P 500 companies, which are some of the largest in the world, did not pay a cent towards our military, education (at the federal program level), social security or Medicare for retirees, infrastructure, public assistance programs and any other federal government program. It is quite incredible when you think about this….that all these companies are making tens of billions of dollars in income but paying no taxes.

Taxes – companies vs. individual

As we wrote about, over 40% of Americans do not pay income taxes. The vast majority of income taxes are paid by the top 1 to 10% of Americans by income. Now not only are 40%+ of individuals not paying federal income taxes, but many profitable companies are not paying taxes.

The data shows that the tax code is “skewed” again middle to high income Americans, whether they own their own business, work for a company, or have other sources of income. They pay high tax rates and a ton of money.

A number of independent studies show that the extremely wealthy (primarily people with hundreds of millions of dollars or more including billionaires) get advantages. While the gross amount they may pay for taxes is high, their income tax rate is very low due to the way they get to treat capital gains and other factors. Even one of the richest people in the world, Warren Buffett, says he has a lower tax bracket than his administrative assistant.

Now low to middle-low income families (over 40% of all Americans) pay no taxes either. They often get special credits, deductions, earned income credits, and other tax breaks that reduces their obligation to zero.

As this latest study shows, dozens of profitable S&P 500 companies paid zero taxes in 2018 too. This includes major corporations and “household names”, including Delta, Amazon, Avis, General Motors, Chevron, Whirlpool, Netflix, and others. They are profitable but have a zero tax commitment. They benefit from countless tax breaks, international ways they can book revenue, tax shelters, and many other advantages.

The Tax code is broken

Amazon has tens of thousands of their own or partner trucks driving on our streets or highways. Their planes use our airports. They benefit (like all Americans and companies) from having a safe and secure country that our military (and other law enforcement) provides. Yet Amazon pays zero…zero dollars for all of that. As do many other companies.

It is wrong. The tax code is so messed up. Small to mid size business owners pay taxes…heck I apparently paid much more than Amazon! We do not get those tax breaks. But tens of millions of people paid zero dollars in 2018 taxes as did S&P 500 companies.

Everyone should need to pay some federal government income taxes. Whether it is a very low income family…make them pay even a few bucks so they have “skin” in the game. Corporations should need to pay too. I think no one should pay zero dollars. It should be part of being an American and benefiting from all the services and advantages we have here…pay something in taxes. What do you think?


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.

One thought on “S&P 500 corporations not paying taxes

  • May 1, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    THIS IS A BIG PART OF WHAT’S WRONG WITH AMERICA, THE RICH CORPORATIONS GET RICHER WHILE THEY SCREW THEIR WORKERS! Does corporate America need to pay taxes? YES. Do they need a tax break or cut? I think answer to that question is very simple, HECK NO!
    They do not hesitate to fire workers when times are tough. The only companies that will stay here, keep workers happy and challenged or build here, are smaller to middle size companies. Give them tax breaks and cuts as they employ most people in smaller work forces.


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