Companies Paying the Most (and Least) Taxes

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5. Walmart
> Income tax expense: $8.0 billion
> Earnings before taxes: $25.7 billion (7th most)
> Revenue: $469.2 billion (the most)
> 1-yr. share price change: +14.9%
> Industry: Retail

Walmart is truly a global retail giant, with more than 4,000 Walmart stores and 630 Sam’s Clubs in the United States and another 6,337 stores around the globe. The company has a heavy presence in a number of countries, with hundreds of stores in Canada, South Africa, Brazil and China, as well as more than 2,000 in Mexico alone. As of fiscal 2013, the bulk of the company’s income before taxes still came from the United States, accounting for nearly $19.4 billion of a $25.7 billion total. Not surprisingly, of the roughly $8 billion the company recorded in tax expenses, about $6.2 billion was paid or owed to the U.S. federal government, states and localities.

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4. Wells Fargo
> Income tax expense: $9.1 billion
> Earnings before taxes: $28.5 billion (5th most)
> Revenue: $79.5 billion (28th most)
> 1-yr. share price change: +31.3%
> Industry: Banking

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) had a total tax expense of more than $9 billion in its most recently reported fiscal year, and it generated nearly $28.5 billion in pre-tax income. Almost all of its tax expense was payable to U.S. federal, state and local governments, with only a small amount in foreign taxes. While Wells Fargo is one of the largest banks in the United States by assets, it is far less involved in investment banking than many other financial giants, although it has grown its underwriting business in recent years. Last year, Wells Fargo made headlines when it surpassed the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China as the largest bank in the world by market capitalization.

3. Apple
> Income tax expense: $13.1 billion
> Earnings before taxes: $50.2 billion (2nd most)
> Revenue: $170.9 billion (4th most)
> 1-yr. share price change: +3.7%
> Industry: Computer hardware

Apple recorded one of the largest tax expenses in the nation in its most recently reported fiscal year, at more than $13 billion. Yet the company has been accused of exploiting loopholes in the Irish legal code — using a now-infamous strategy called the “double Irish” — to avoid paying taxes. In all, the company saved more than $4.6 billion on taxes by leaving earnings indefinitely invested abroad in its most recent fiscal year. This helped Apple cut its effective tax rate to 26.2% from the federal corporate income tax rate of 35%.

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2. Chevron
> Income tax expense: $20.0 billion
> Earnings before taxes: $46.3 billion (3rd most)
> Revenue: $222.6 billion (3rd most)
> 1-yr. share price change: 13.8%
> Industry: Oil and gas

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) had one of the largest tax expenses in the nation during its most recently reported fiscal year, but most of that money was payable to the U.S. federal government. Of Chevron’s $20 billion tax expense, more than $17 billion was in taxes owed to foreign countries. As a result, Chevron’s effective tax rate was 43.2% — well above the U.S. statutory rate of 35%. High taxes, though, are not the company’s only concern abroad. The oil and gas giant remains embroiled in a long-running lawsuit related to pollution in Ecuador by Texaco, which it acquired more than a decade ago. Chevron has alleged that the Ecuadorian verdict, ordering it to pay damages running well into the billions of dollars, is based on fraudulent evidence.

1. Exxon Mobil
> Income tax expense: $31.0 billion
> Earnings before taxes: $78.7 billion (the most)
> Revenue: $428.4 billion (2nd most)
> 1-yr. share price change: +14.5%
> Industry: Oil and gas

Exxon Mobil is one of the nation’s largest companies by a number of measures. The oil and gas titan trails only Walmart in revenue and has the highest pre-tax income of any American public company. Not surprisingly, Exxon Mobil also pays more in taxes than any other corporation. In its most recently reported full year, the company’s tax expenses totaled nearly $31 billion. Exxon Mobile’s foreign income totaled more than $67 billion in its most recent fiscal year, which helped boost its effective tax rate to 44% of before-tax income. However, foreign taxes are not the company’s only drain on profits. For much of last year, the company had to contend with diminishing profitability from its refining operations.

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