How Fortune 1000 Companies Avoid Paying Taxes

Ever wondered how Fortune 1000 companies manage to pay less in taxes than you? You are not alone. It is a common complaint that these large corporations don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes. They are making millions and millions of dollars each year, so how do they manage to avoid paying any taxes at all? In this blog post, you’ll discover numerous legal ways that big companies use to evade paying federal Federal corporate income taxes.

How Do Corporate Taxes Work?

The U.S. corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world. This, coupled with a complex set of rules and regulations when it comes to federal taxes, makes it difficult for companies to figure out how much they owe.

The U.S. corporate tax system is based on the idea that companies should pay taxes on their profits, not on their revenue. Profits are defined as net income—revenue minus expenses. The amount of profit a company has determined how much tax it owes the government.

Companies have to pay federal income taxes on their profits at a flat rate of 21%. There are also state taxes that vary from state to state, but these are usually much lower than federal income taxes.

What Taxes Are Corporations Required to Pay?

The three main types of taxes that U.S. corporations are required to pay are federal income tax, state income tax, and employment taxes.

Federal Income Tax: The federal income tax is based on a corporation’s taxable income, which is calculated by subtracting its allowable deductions from its total taxable income. The allowable deductions include business expenses, depreciation, and the cost of goods sold. The amount of the corporation’s taxable income determines its applicable tax rate—the higher the taxable income, the higher the applicable tax rate.

State Income Tax: Some states impose an additional state income tax on corporations that do business within their borders. State income taxes are generally calculated based on a corporation’s net operating income (or net profit), though some states use gross receipts as their basis for calculating state corporate income taxes.

Employment Taxes: Corporations must also pay employment taxes for each employee who works in certain capacities within their organization (e.g., certain executives or managers). Employment taxes include Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA), as well as unemployment insurance (FUTA).

What is the Corporate Tax Rate?

The corporate tax rate is the percentage of income that a business must pay to the government. It is also referred to as the corporate tax or the corporate income tax. The corporate tax rate is usually expressed as a percentage of a company’s income.

The corporate tax rate was reduced from 35% to 21% by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. 

Common Corporate Tax Loopholes

Federal corporate income taxes come with several loopholes if you know where to look. These loopholes are the legal methods used by companies to reduce their tax burden. Tax loopholes are not illegal, but they do enable companies to pay less than they would otherwise owe in taxes. Many companies use tax loopholes to reduce their tax burden, and some even manage to avoid paying taxes altogether.

A few common corporate tax loopholes include:

Offshore Profits

Offshore profits are profits that are generated by a U.S. corporation that is not repatriated to the U.S. This can happen when foreign subsidiaries of a company do business with each other and there is no need to transfer money back to the parent company in order for it to be used for operations or reinvestment purposes.

To avoid paying taxes on these offshore corporate profits, some companies simply leave them abroad indefinitely, but others use accounting gimmicks to move the profits around so that they appear to be earned in countries with lower tax rates than the U.S., even though they remain untaxed in those countries too. 

The most common way this happens is by having subsidiaries in low-tax jurisdictions borrow money from their parent companies in higher-tax jurisdictions at artificially high-interest rates (so-called “high margin loans”) so that interest payments can be deducted from taxable income even though no real cash flows out of the company.

The result is that U.S.-based companies end up paying little or no taxes on profits generated abroad—even if those profits represent an important source of revenue for them—without any real economic benefit for American workers or domestic investment opportunities.

Research and Development Tax Credits 

The research and development tax credit is one of the most important tax loopholes for large corporations because it allows them to deduct money spent on research and development from their taxable income. This allows companies to reduce their taxable income, which means they pay less in taxes every year. 


An Inversion is when a U.S. company merges with a foreign company, moves its headquarters to that country, and reincorporates there. This allows them to avoid paying U.S. taxes on their profits indefinitely as long as they don’t repatriate their profits back into the United States. With the use of tax havens and inversions, this is one of the most popular ways for big companies to avoid paying taxes because it is very easy to do and completely legal under current law.

For example, Burger King recently merged with Tim Horton’s (a Canadian company) and moved its headquarters to Canada where it will no longer pay U.S. federal corporate income tax on its future profits!

Accelerated Depreciation

Accelerated depreciation is a method of computing taxes on capital investments that allow companies to claim more equipment and other assets as expenses than they would if they were depreciated under the straight-line method. The accelerated method allows larger deductions in earlier years, so it can help reduce taxable income and thus the amount of taxes owed by a business. 

How it Works

Companies are allowed to claim most business assets as expenses over several years instead of immediately deducting them from their taxable income. The IRS sets a minimum depreciation period for each kind of asset, such as 5 or 7 years for machinery and equipment. However, businesses can choose to depreciate their assets more quickly than required by using an accelerated depreciation schedule. This involves dividing the total cost of an asset into equal parts over its useful life, instead of spreading it evenly over time. The result is that more depreciation expense is claimed in the early years of ownership, which reduces taxable income in those years.

Deductions For Employee Stock Options

Employee stock options are another common way that large companies avoid paying taxes. Employee stock options allow employees to purchase shares of the company’s stock at a set price. Employees can then sell these shares later if the value increases, creating profit for them. 

However, this profit is not considered income by the IRS and does not need to be reported on their tax return unless it exceeds $100,000 per year (the exact amount varies based on your filing status). This means that many top executives at Fortune 1000 companies don’t have to pay any taxes on their profits from exercising employee stock options!

Tax Credits

Another common loophole is the use of tax credits. Corporations can earn these credits by investing in select industries or projects and then applying them toward their tax liability. Tax credits are often used by corporations in the technology, renewable energy, and clean transportation sectors, which offer lucrative tax credits for investment in those areas.

Taxation For Different Business Structures

When you start a business, you need to be prepared for the taxes that come with it. Taxes are a necessary evil, and they can also be confusing and overwhelming. Fortunately, there are several different types of business structures that may help you reduce your tax liability and make the process easier to understand.

Below are some of the most common business structures and their potential tax implications:

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship, also known as a “one-person business,” is the simplest form of business structure. It is an unincorporated business owned by one person. Simply stated, it means that you are your own boss. You can operate a sole proprietorship in many different industries and sectors, but it is important to understand that there are certain limitations and risks involved with this type of business entity.

With a sole proprietorship, all profits are taxed as personal income and are subject to self-employment tax (Social Security and Medicare). You will also have to pay quarterly estimated taxes throughout the year since you will be responsible for paying your own tax liability when it comes time for filing your annual tax return.

This means that you take home less in your paycheck than an employee would. However, you may be eligible for deductions or credits so that you don’t end up paying more in taxes than if you were employed by someone else.

S Corp

The S corporation is a popular option for small businesses with one or more owners. It is also an attractive choice for entrepreneurs who want to keep all of their profits for themselves, rather than having to share any with shareholders.

One of the most important benefits of an S corporation is the ability to avoid double taxation. When you file your federal income tax return as a sole proprietor, you pay taxes on your business income at both the corporate and individual levels. This means that if you earn $100,000 in profit and you are taxed at 25%, you will pay $25,000 in taxes once at the individual level and again at the corporate level.

As an S corp owner, however, only your personal income is subject to double taxation. When the company makes money, it pays taxes on those profits like any other corporation. But when it distributes dividends to shareholders (which are usually limited to two per year), those earnings are generally taxed only once—at the shareholder’s personal rate—rather than twice as ordinary income would be.

C Corp

A C corporation is a separate taxable entity from its owners. It files a separate tax return and pays taxes on its profits. The corporation must pay federal and state income taxes at the corporate level, and shareholders must pay taxes when they receive dividends from the company.

Without careful planning, however, C corp profits may be taxed twice—once at the corporate level and again when they are distributed as dividends. This double taxation can be avoided by keeping profits inside the company rather than distributing them to shareholders as dividends. This strategy is known as retained earnings or plowing back earnings into the business. If you decide to reinvest your profits, you can use them to buy equipment or fund future growth opportunities for your business.


The LLC is one of the most popular business structures for small businesses because it offers liability protection to its owners. Like a corporation, an LLC can be taxed as a partnership or as a corporation, but it doesn’t have to be taxed as either type of entity. 

In most states, an LLC can also choose to be treated like a sole proprietorship or a disregarded entity. In other words, the income and expenses pass through directly to the owner’s personal income tax return. For example, if you own 100% of your business and are an individual, then you would report all of your LLC’s income and expenses on Schedule C of your 1040 tax return. 

When you are trying to decide what type of business structure will work best for your needs, it is important to understand the different options available to companies so that you can determine which one is right for you.

Final Thoughts

The Fortune 1000 has many ways to avoid paying taxes, and all of them are legal. The most successful companies will use a combination of the strategies mentioned above. No single method is foolproof, but by combining strategies, a company can reduce its overall tax liability. It is important to have a good accountant that knows the ins and outs of the tax code that these companies employ. A change in tax law could render any one of these methods obsolete. 

 If you are looking for more helpful articles, check out these other great financial topics and start bettering your business!

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