Last year alone, 24 of the 30 multinational companies analyzed by CTJ paid effective tax rates under 4 percent, far below the federal statutory rate of 35 percent. Overall, the effective tax rate paid by the companies in question during the four-year period was -3.1 percent on a combined $205 billion in U.S. profits.
The companies analyzed by CTJ include some of the biggest corporate names in the U.S., most of which have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the elected officials responsible for the tax policies allowing them to pay those small tax rates on their profits.
Following is a look at the five most profitable companies on the CTJ list and the top five federal political candidates or incumbents who have benefited from the backing of each of the companies' employees and political action committees during the 2011-2012 election cycle. The contribution figures are drawn from publicly available data at the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org.
Verizon Communications Inc.
The global broadband and telecommunications company raked in about $19.8 billion in profits between 2008 and 2011 while paying a negative effective tax rate of -3.8 percent.
Top recipients: President Barack Obama, $51,493; Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., $24,450; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., $23,700; House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, $22,500; Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., $15,000.
General Electric Co.
The conglomerate -- whose CEO is currently the chair of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness -- paid a negative -18.9 percent effective tax rate on $19.6 billion in profits.
Top recipients: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, $53,750; Obama, $30,493; Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., $23,900; Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., $21,860; Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., $19,750.
The aerospace and defense corporation paid a negative -5.5 percent effective tax rate on $14.8 billion in profits.
Top recipients: Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., $31,750; Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., $25,000; Former Sen. George Allen, R-Va., $23,500; Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., $23,125; Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., $20,986.
American Electric Power Co. Inc.
The Ohio-based electric-utility company paid a negative -6.4 percent effective tax rate on $8.2 billion in profits.
Top recipients: Boehner, $34,750; Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, $34,050; Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, $21,700; Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., $19,750; Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, $18,450.
The electric-utility company paid a negative -8.4 percent effective tax rate on $6 billion in profits.
Top recipients: Obama, $6,250; Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., $5,000; Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., $5,000; Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., $5,000; Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., $3,500.