IRS: Loopholes Let Corporations Pay 25% Tax Rate, Not 35%

John McCain and other conservatives spent the last year railing against the United States’ 35 percent corporate tax rate.

What they never mentioned is that this 35 percent corporate rate is so riddled with loopholes and shelters that the United States collects less in corporate taxes as a percentage of GDP than most other industrialized countries.

Corporate Taxes

Now, new IRS data shows typical American companies paid only 25.3 percent of their U.S. book income in federal corporate taxes in 2005, despite a statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent, by using loopholes and shelters.

U.S. companies “reported about $1.35 trillion in pretax U.S. book income to their investors in 2005, but about $1.03 trillion to the IRS — a difference of about 23%.”

A quick back of the envelope calculation shows that the difference between paying 35 percent on $1.03 trillion in income and $1.35 trillion in income is approximately $112 billion — enough to finance more than half of CAP’s ambitious “Green Recovery” plan to jumpstart a clean energy economy.

Some differences between book and reported income are legal and legitimate, but they can also be a sign of sheltering and abuse. Effective tax reform would first broaden the tax base by closing loopholes and eliminating shelters, before considering a lower statutory corporate rate.