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Published: Apr 15, 2019 6 min read
Employees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters, in Seattle. Amazon, November 13, 2018.
Employees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters, in Seattle. Amazon, November 13, 2018.
Elaine Thompson—AP/Shutterstock

Tax Day 2019 is here! Monday, April 15, is when taxes are due, so you are probably keenly aware of how much you pay in taxes right now. It may come as a shock to also learn that some of America's biggest corporations pay less in taxes than you do — in fact, they are receiving billions back from the government via tax rebates.

The left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) recently published a report highlighting 60 profitable Fortune 500 companies that collectively reported $79 billion in income last year — and are also paying $0 in federal taxes.

The companies reportedly paying $0 in federal income taxes for 2018 include Amazon, Netflix, IBM, Halliburton, Chevron, Deere, Delta Air Lines, General Motors, Honeywell, Prudential Financial, and Whirlpool. What's more, nearly all of the companies in the report are receiving money back from the government, and it adds up to an insane net payout of $4.3 billion.

Amazon, for example, reported nearly $11 billion in income for the 2018 tax year, and the e-retail giant, founded by world's richest man Jeff Bezos, is claiming a tax rebate of $129 million. That's good for an effective tax rate of -1%.

(An Amazon spokesperson said the retailer "pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the U.S. and every country where we operate" and pointed out the company also creates tens of thousands of U.S. jobs every year.)

Netflix reported $856 million of income and a $22 million tax rebate, while IBM reported $500 million of income and a $342 million tax rebate — good for effective tax rebates of -3% and -68%, respectively.

Charlotte-based Duke Energy is receiving a whopping $647 million tax rebate (and $3 billion of income) for the 2018 tax year. That makes the average tax refund of around $3,000 seem like nothing.

How do these wealthy corporations get away with not only paying $0 in taxes, but also receiving money back from the government?

As ITEP explains it, they use a wide variety of tax breaks to avoid federal income taxes and maximize their opportunities for receiving tax rebates and credits. Among the strategies are fossil fuel and alternative energy tax subsidies, tax credits for research and development and other investments, accelerated depreciation use for writing off capital investments, and deductions from giving out stock options to executives.

The GOP tax overhaul, which slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% for the 2018 tax year, has also apparently increased the likelihood that large and profitable companies pay nothing in taxes. There are roughly twice as many Fortune 500 companies paying $0 in taxes this year compared to previous studies published by ITEP.

Granted, the likelihood that individual Americans are not paying any federal income taxes is also up for the 2018 tax year. According to the Tax Policy Center, the percentage of adults who owe $0 in federal income taxes is now now 44.4%, compared to 43.2% before President Trump and the GOP passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Proponents of the Trump tax cuts also claim that lower corporate tax rates help create jobs.

Then again, the corporate tax cuts have resulted in a ballooning federal deficit, measuring roughly $900 billion lately. Even as the economy has surged, the amount of corporate taxes collected in the fourth quarter of 2018 decreased by 17% compared to the same period in 2017. And even though most taxpayers are paying less in taxes after the cuts, few people say the tax cuts are benefitting them: According to a recent poll, only 17% of Americans think their taxes are lower this year.

The larger point is that whether they're aware that their personal tax burden is lower or not, many Americans are bound to be furious with the idea that dozens of huge and profitable corporations are paying nothing.

Here's the full list of 60 companies paying $0 in federal income taxes for 2018, despite collectively reporting over $79 billion in income, according to ITEP:

• Activision Blizzard
• AECOM Technology
• Alaska Air Group
• Ameren
• American Electric Power
• Aramark
• Arrow Electronics
• Arthur Gallagher
• Atmos Energy
• Avis Budget Group
• Celanese
• Chevron
• Cliffs Natural Resources
• CMS Energy
• Deere
• Delta Air Lines
• Devon Energy
• Dominion Resources
• DTE Energy
• Duke Energy
• Eli Lilly
• EOG Resources
• FirstEnergy
• Gannett
• General Motors
• Goodyear Tire & Rubber
• Halliburton
• Honeywell International
• International Business Machines (IBM)
• JetBlue Airways
• Kinder Morgan
• MDU Resources
• MGM Resorts International
• Molson Coors
• Netflix
• Occidental Petroleum
• Owens Corning
• Penske Automotive Group
• Performance Food Group
• Pioneer Natural Resources
• Pitney Bowes
• Principal Financial
• Prudential Financial
• Public Service Enterprise Group
• PulteGroup
• Realogy
• Rockwell Collins
• Ryder System
• SpartanNash
• Tech Data
• Trinity Industries
• United States Steel
• Whirlpool
• Wisconsin Energy
• Xcel Energy