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The span in what big corporations paid in taxes yesterday

By Dian Vujovich

There is nothing very equal or fair about a lot of things in life. Take corporate taxes, for instance: Some companies reap the benefits of creative corporate policies, good tax attorneys and accountants while others aren’t able to employ such tactics. The results? Corporate tax rates that are all over the board and at first read may appear horribly unfair. Whether that unfairness is warranted or not makes for great cocktail fodder.

Whatever your take, Citizen for Tax Justice, (CTJ), a public interest research group formed in 1979, looks at tax policies and how they impact us. It recently released a report titled “Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers 2008-2010”.

The study looks at the tax rates paid by 280 of America’s largest Fortune 500 companies over that time period and reminds readers that it was President Ronald Reagan who aggressively set out to clean up unnecessary tax subsidies and corporate tax dodging. The result was the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Reagan’s thinking was on the right track but as we’ve learned over the decades, corporate America is not without its dark side. And when that side is in charge the results can be ugly with some firm’s preferring to game the tax system above all else.

Here are a few snippets from that report:

•Over the three years covered in the study, the average effective tax rate for all 280 companies was 18.5 percent.

•For the past two years, 2009 and 2010, the effective tax rate for all 280 companies averaged 17.3 percent, less than half of the statutory 35 percent rate.

•25 percent of the total, 71 companies, paid effective three-year tax rates of more than 30 percent. Their average effective tax rate was 32.3 percent.

• 67 companies paid effective three-year tax rates of less than 10 percent.

•30 companies paid less than zero percent over the three years. Their effective tax rate averaged -6.7 percent.

The report is an interesting read.To learn more and download it visit http://www.ctj.org.

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