Some Fortune 100 companies hate paying taxes so much that they will pay to lobby against them. And it works. According to the Sunlight Foundation, the ten Fortune 100 companies that lobbied the most on tax issues paid an average effective tax rate of 17.1 percent last year. The 70 companies that lobbied the least on tax rates paid an average of 26 percent in corporate tax.
And some companies are better at this than others. Take General Electric, for example. Just how much did one of the world’s largest corporations pay in taxes in 2010? The amount is astonishing – nothing. The New York Times reported earlier this year:
Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm.
While the top corporate tax rate in the United States is technically 35 percent, few of the biggest companies pay anywhere near that, thanks to the creative use of shelters, tax credits, subsidies, and most importantly, lobbyists.