April 27, 2017

Fortune 500s Surveyed in Florida Pay Average State Corporate Tax Rate of Just 2.8 Percent as the State Continues to Underfund Core Public Services

New report analyzes state and local taxes paid by 240 profitable companies in the U.S.

The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) today joined the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) in announcing the findings of its latest report, which shows that eight Fortune 500 companies based in Florida are paying — on average — less than half the state corporate tax rate thanks to copious loopholes and generous tax giveaways.

The report, 3 Percent and Dropping, examined 240 Fortune 500 companies that were profitable every year between 2008 and 2015. The report indicates that – in 2014 — the effective state corporate tax rate paid by profitable companies has declined, dropping from 3.1 percent to 2.9 percent of their U.S. profits.

There are eight companies with headquarters in Florida included in the report: NextEra Energy, Tech Data, Darden Restaurants, Ryder System, CSX, Publix Super Markets, AutoNation and Raymond James Financial. The following points are notable with respect to the Florida-based Fortune 500s:

  • Between 2008 and 2015, the average state corporate tax rate paid by these eight profitable corporations was 2.8 percent – almost half of the statutory corporate tax rate of 5.5 percent.
  • Each company paid taxes at a lower rate than the statutory corporate income tax rate of 5.5 percent over the 2008-15 period: the highest tax rate paid was 5.3 percent and the lowest tax rate paid was 1.0 percent.
  • Profits for the eight corporations combined totaled $76 billion, while combined corporate income taxes paid was less than $1.9 billion over the 2008-15 period.

“It’s unfortunate that Florida is unwilling to fully invest in core public services — the Legislature is proposing funding per-pupil education, for example, at levels below what it was a decade ago in real terms — while Fortune 500 companies that utilize our natural resources and human capital are not paying their fair share,” said Joseph F. Pennisi, executive director of FPI.  “Working Floridians struggling to make ends meet are footing the bill for these corporations to pad their profits.”

Major national findings of the report include the following:

  • Over the study period, more than half of the profits from Fortune 500 corporations escaped state taxes entirely.
  • In total, the 240 companies avoided $126 billion in state corporate income taxes over the eight-year period.
  • Despite profits, 92 of the 240 companies managed to pay no state income tax at all in at least one year from 2008 to 2015. Forty-nine of these companies enjoyed multiple no-tax years.
  • In 2015 alone, 24 companies paid no state income tax. Another 131 (over half of the companies in ITEP’s sample) paid less than half the weighted-average statutory state corporate tax rate that year.

The report comes at a time when lawmakers in Florida are considering $666 million in additional corporate tax cuts.

“The first step in any state’s corporate tax reform should be ensuring corporations are actually paying taxes,” said Meg Wiehe, director of state tax policy at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.  “At a time when public services that ordinary people rely on face inadequate funding, we shouldn’t be having a conversation about lowering taxes on profitable corporations, which only means the rest of us have to pay more. We should be talking about how to strengthen the corporate income tax to allow corporations to pay their fair share.”

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization that works on federal, state, and local tax policy issues. ITEP’s mission is to ensure that elected officials, the media, and the general public have access to accurate, timely, and straightforward information that allows them to understand the effects of current and proposed tax policies. ITEP’s work focuses particularly on issues of tax fairness and sustainability.

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