The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) published a report in March 2017: The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth; Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies, 2008 to 2015.
The report documented just how successful many Fortune 500 corporations had been at using loopholes and special breaks over the past eight years, in order to have paid less than the 35% federal income tax on their U.S. profits - with many having paid nothing at all.
ITEP stated: "As lawmakers look to reform the corporate tax code, this report shows that the focus of any overhaul should be on closing loopholes rather than on cutting tax rates."
The report included only corporations which had been consistently profitable every year between 2008 to 2015. By leaving out corporations that had losses in any one year (which means they wouldn’t have paid any tax), the report provides a straightforward picture of average effective tax rates paid by the 258 biggest and most consistently profitable U.S. companies.
The report found that one hundred of the 258 companies (39 percent of them) paid zero or less in federal income taxes in at least one year from 2008 to 2015.
The sectors with the lowest effective corporate tax rates over the eight-year period were Utilities, Gas and Electric (3.1%), Industrial Machinery (11.4%), Telecommunications (11.5%), Oil, Gas, and Pipelines (11.6%), and Internet Services and Retailing (15.6%). Each of these industries paid, as a group, less than half the statutory 35 percent tax rate over this eight-year period.
Whole Foods Market was one of the companies in the report. Over the eight year period covered by the report, the company was found to have made US$4,399.5 million profit, on which it paid US$1,532.5m tax. This worked out at a rate of 34.8%.