Although a few S&P 500 firms managed to not pay any income tax last year because of losses or just taking advantage of tax loopholes, the vast majority of companies did end up sending the IRS a decent-sized check. According to an April 17th report from FactSet Insight, the firms in the S&P 500 paid an average of $866.1 million in corporate income taxes in 2014. That figure is up from $849.6 million in 2013.
FactSet Senior Earnings Analyst John Butters notes that firms that reported negative values for income taxes paid were not included in the calculations.
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Companies that paid the most income tax in 2014
It turns out that the top six highest- taxpaying companies have remained the same for the last five years, but there is a good bit of movement among the top six year to year. Exxon Mobil paid the most corporate income tax in 2014, coughing up just a tad more than 18 billion to Uncle Sam. Apple was second in taxes paid in 2014, remitting just under $14 billion to the IRS. Chevron was third, paying $11,892,000,000 in U.S. taxes last year.
On a five-year average basis, Exxon Mobil clearly paid the most taxes, averaging more than $25 billion a year from 2009 to 2014. O&G sector major Chevron has paid a shade less than $16 billion a year in corporate taxes since 2009, good for second place overall. iPhone maker Apple has paid the third most taxes among S&P 500 firms over the last five years, sending the feds a check averaging $10,786,000,000 a year.
More on U.S. corporate tax rate
Butters also offers some insights into the tax rate over the last few years. He points out that for S&P 500 firms with a fiscal year ending in March 2014 through February 2015, the average corporate tax rate was 28.1%. This is just less than the 28.7% average corporate tax rate over the last five years.
He concludes by noting that while the average amount that S&P 500 firms have paid in income taxes has increased over the past five years (to be expected as earnings have increased over this period), the average tax rate for the firms has not varied significantly.