By the Numbers

Is Your Tax Rate Higher Than These Banks?

How much tax do U.S. banks pay compared to the average American?

Companies in the S&P 500 paid an average effective tax rate of 28.5 percent in 2010, compared to 15 percent in federal income tax for the median U.S.household with an income of $49,445.

The next tax rate for married couples earning more than $68,000 and filing jointly is 25 percent, which is close to the average paid by companies in the S&P 500 index.

Firms in the S&P reported $1.13 trillion in earnings before taxes (EBT) for 2010 fiscal year. Of that amount, $322.27 billion or 28.5 percent was recorded as income tax expense, according to an analysis by 

The current statutory rate of U.S. corporate income tax stands at 35 percent and is the second highest in the world, according to The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization.

By comparison, financial firms paid $57.6 billion in corporate taxes last year at an average rate of 24.7 percent.  That amount accounted for about 17.9 percent of the total tax expense of all S&P 500 firms. 

JPMorgan , Wells Fargo , AIG , Citigroup and Goldman Sachs were among the top 20 earners within the S&P 500 during the 2010 fiscal year.

But how do these firms rank in terms of corporate taxes paid compared to the overall index?

Citigroup, for example, earned $13.2 billion, and had an effective tax rate (total tax paid divided by taxable income) of 16.9 percent, putting the company in 396th place among tax payers in the S&P 500.

The table below highlights rankings for some of the major financial firms in terms of earnings and taxes. 

Note: Effective tax rate rankings exclude 38 companies with negative earnings.

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