Global Effective Tax Rates | Business Roundtable


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I. Introduction

Business Roundtable engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP ("PwC") to examine global effective tax rates of U.S.- and foreign-headquartered companies for the years 2006 to 2009. PwC calculated and compared effective tax rates by country for the 2,000 largest companies in the world as ranked by the 2010 Forbes Global 2000 list. The data for the study are from company financial statements as reported in the S&P Global Vantage database.

II. Methodology

The companies on the 2010 Forbes Global 2000 list include 536 U.S.-headquartered companies and 1,464 other companies headquartered in 60 foreign countries. The S&P Global Vantage database was used to obtain total income taxes and pretax income from company financial statements for each year in the four-year period 2006-2009 for each of the 2000 companies for which data were available.

Total income taxes is defined to be the sum of all taxes imposed on income by local, provincial or state, national, and foreign governments during the year. It is the total tax provision and includes current taxes as well as the change in net deferred tax liabilities for the year. Pretax income is defined to be worldwide net income before income taxes, minority interest, and extraordinary items.

The effective tax rate is defined as total income taxes divided by pretax income.

Weighted-average effective tax rates were calculated for each country by summing total income taxes and pretax income across all companies headquartered in the country. Simple averages were then calculated across all countries represented in the sample.

To provide greater comparability of effective tax rates across the sample and reduce the impact of outliers, certain observations were excluded from the analysis. First, companies that reported zero or negative pretax income in a particular year are excluded from effective tax rate calculations for that year. Effective tax rates for companies with negative pretax income are difficult to interpret and can be misleading as to the true burden of the tax system. Second, in a limited number of cases Global Vantage reported missing values as zeros for either total income taxes or pretax income. In these cases, the company was dropped from the calculations for the particular year. Third, many countries subject oil and gas companies to higher levels of income taxation compared to ordinary corporate income tax rates.1 For some countries, given the size of the oil and gas sector relative to the entire economy, such higher rates can significantly influence comparisons with other countries. Thus, companies with substantial oil and gas operations have been excluded from the country comparisons to eliminate these effects.2

After accounting for these exclusions, the study includes 484 U.S.-headquartered companies and 1,336 foreign-headquartered companies for at least one year in the 2006-2009 period. These companies were based in the United States and 58 other countries.