How much taxes individuals and corporations pay

The US business and political class are fond of bemoaning what they say are the high rates of corporate taxes in the US and how it makes the US uncompetitive compared to their European counterparts. Of course, this is just a game played by transnational elites to try and get governments to compete with each other in lowering tax rates. If the US rates do dip below the European ones, then the business elites in Europe will complain how they are now disadvantaged and need to have their taxes lowered, and so on.

In this charade, the business sector focuses on the nominal tax rates but of course this is not what businesses pay. There are all manner of deductions that they have obtained for themselves over time that results in them paying much lower taxes, much like individuals can deduct state and local taxes, home mortgage interest, charitable donations, and the like.

Kevin Drum has looked at the average tax actually paid as a percentage of GDP by individuals and corporations and how that has varied over time.

The graph shows what a fraud the complaint about high business tax rates is.


  1. cartomancer says

    Another common whinge on the part of the capitalist class is that if corporate taxes are raised then the corporations will just relocate elsewhere, where corporate taxes are lower.

    The thing about that is, they could already relocate for lower taxes. Uruguay has among the lowest corporate taxes in the world, but there hasn’t been a mass exodus of companies heading for Uruguay. Particularly since (in theory) companies have to pay taxes on profits earned in a foreign country to that country.

    Also, back in the so-called “golden age” of capitalism, the 50s-70s, corporations paid something like 90% of their profits in tax in the top bracket. The companies still did pretty well out of it.

  2. says

    Exxon-Mobil, headquartered in Houston, didn’t pay any taxes at all in 2009 when gas prices were spiking. Dunno if they’ve been reined in or not, but that’s pretty gross.

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