Less than zero. That was Intel’s federal tax bill in 2022. Not only did Intel pay no federal income taxes that year, the company even recorded a $249 million tax credit reducing future tax payments, according to the Portland Business Journal.
And if Intel paid no federal income taxes, it raises the question, how much did the state’s large private employer pay in income taxes to Oregon? We don’t know the answer, unfortunately, because Oregon has yet to require corporations to disclose that information.
Intel isn’t the only prominent Oregon corporation that ducked meaningful contributions to the common good, at least at the federal level. The Portland Business Journal listed 12 publicly traded companies and none had an effective federal tax rate above 3 percent in 2022. These are some of the lowlights:
- Nike had more than $46 billion in revenue in 2022, yet had an effective tax rate of 1.3 percent.
- Lithia Motors earned more than $28 billion in revenue and had an effective tax rate of 1.7 percent.
- Columbia Sportswear racked up almost $3.5 billion in revenue and reached a tax rate of 2.5 percent.
These corporations benefit from shared public services, yet they contribute relatively little to the national coffers.
The data above does not shine a light on what taxes these corporations pay in Oregon, because that data is not publicly available. Do they contribute meaningfully to our schools, healthcare, and other public services? Or do they pay the absolute minimum? We’re in the dark as to this important matter of public policy.
Corporate tax transparency, a policy requiring disclosure of certain tax and financial information, would ensure that Oregonians know how much big corporations contribute to the common good in our state. This information would empower the public and lawmakers to understand how powerful corporations game Oregon’s corporate tax system and to come up with reforms. The simple act of disclosing potential shenanigans could discourage corporate tax avoidance.
Enacting corporate tax transparency would increase accountability and tax fairness — a win for Oregonians.