October 25, 2013 3:26 pm -

USA Today looked at data from S&P Capital IQ and found that more than 10% of large companies have effective tax rates of zero or less.

The news comes months after after the Government Accountability Office released a report showing that companies in 2010 reported an average effective tax rate of 12.6%, well below the 35% federal corporate tax rate.

Corporate giants such as telecom firm Verizon, drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb and power management firm Eaton, all reported effective tax rates of 0% during the past 12 months. The findings underscore that while many companies bellyache about the top federal income tax rate of 35%, in reality, many pay much less than that, says Nick Yee of Gradient Analytics. “Investors hope company management is doing everything they can to generate profit, legally,” he says. “But the tax code is gray, and there’s often no set guidance.”

Among the ways companies drive down tax rates:

  • Offshore transfer payments
  • Harvesting losses
  • Accounting rules

Companies paying zero% in taxes during the last 12 months, in order of  market value (in millions).

  • Verizon: $146.4
  • MetLife: $53.9
  • Eaton: $32.7
  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals: $29.6
  • Public Storage: $29.5
  • Ventas: $19.3
  • Avalonbay Communities: $17.4
  • Agilent Technologies: $16.9
  • Vornado Realty Trust: $16.8
  • Boston Properites: $16.7
  • Seagate Technology: $15.9
  • Broadcom: $15.7