From the [Motley Fool http://www.fool.com/News/mft/2004/mft04040803.html
Our friends at the government's General Accounting Office (GAO) have just dropped a bombshell. A recent GAO report reveals that between 1996 and 2000, when the economy booming and the stock market was soaring ever higher, the majority of American companies (61%), paid not a penny in federal taxes. Hmm...
In 2003, tax revenues from corporations made up just 7.4% of total federal receipts -- the second-lowest rate since 1934. The current corporate tax rate for major corporations is 35% -- but there are clearly enough loopholes and tax credits available that many firms are able to pay considerably less than 35%. The GAO study reported that the average tax bill of U.S. companies represented about 1.2% of gross receipts.
The study also revealed that small companies were more likely to avoid taxes than their larger brethren. Nearly 40% of firms with more than $250 million in assets or $50 million in revenues paid no taxes during the period studied. Making matters worse, some 70% of foreign-owned firms that operate in the U.S. also managed to avoid coughing up taxes during the late 1990s.