We keep hearing that the corporate tax code is riddled with “loopholes” and that large corporations are tax cheats for using them and not paying their “fair share.” Is it true? No, most large corporations pay the amount in taxes they do because Congress expressly wrote the tax code to allow them to pay that amount.
Corporations do game the system. Recent academic evidence pegs America’s losses from corporate profit shifting in 2017—in large part a response to the uncompetitive U.S. tax system before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—at $26 billion. The uncollected income tax owed by corporations was estimated most recently by the Internal Revenue Service at $32 billion in 2013.
The more significant revenue loss, however, is from exceptions to the tax code. When it comes to lost corporate tax revenue, exceptions are the rule, and not following the rules is the exception.