Wednesday, April 15 marked the deadline for Americans to file their federal income taxes with the IRS. In terms of the S&P 500, what did the average company in the index pay in income taxes over the past year? How did this amount compare to recent years?
Looking at income taxes paid by S&P 500 companies with a fiscal year ending in the past 12 months (Mach 2014 through February 2015), the average amount of annual income taxes paid was $866.1 million. This amount is above the average from one-year ago ($849.6 million) and above the average of the past five years ($799.1 million). Companies that reported negative values for income taxes paid were excluded from these averages.
At the company level, Exxon Mobil paid the highest amount of income taxes of all S&P 500 companies over the past year (fiscal year ending in December 2014) at just over $18 billion. Over the past five years, Exxon Mobil has paid the largest amount of income taxes on average at $25.2 billion.
Looking at the tax rate (which is defined for this analysis as taxes paid divided by pretax income) for S&P 500 companies with a fiscal year ending in the past 12 months (March 2014 through February 2015), the average tax rate was 28.1%. This amount is slightly below the percentage from one-year ago (28.7%) and slightly below the average of the past five years (also 28.7%). Companies with tax rates that were either below 0% or above 100% were excluded from these averages.
Thus, it appears that while the average amount of money S&P 500 companies have paid in income taxes has increased over the past five years (as the average amount of earnings have also increased over this period), the average tax rate for S&P 500 companies has remained relatively consistent over this period.