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Trump’s $50 Billion Tax Giveaway to the 100 Largest Corporations

Trump’s $50 Billion Tax Giveaway to the 100 Largest Corporations

Trump’s plan to slash the corporate tax rate would give the largest corporations a tax cut exceeding federal K-12 education spending.

Donald Trump
Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to Trump Tower on May 29, 2024, in New York City. (Getty/James Devaney/GC Images)

The most significant piece of legislation former President Donald Trump signed during his first term had a dramatic cut in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent as its centerpiece. That corporate tax cut did not trickle down to ordinary workers but cost $1.3 trillion and helped fuel a record $1 trillion in stock buybacks the year after it passed.

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We know that “privately, Trump has told allies that he is keenly interested in cutting corporate tax rates again,” according to The Washington Post, even as corporate profits hit near record highs in 2023. The Post also reported that “Trump’s advisers…have discussed proposals to make deeper cuts to the overall corporate tax rate, potentially to as low as 15 percent.” As antitax advocate Grover Norquist told The Post, “‘I would be very surprised’ if he abandoned the push for lower corporate taxes…‘All the people advising him before for sure think the 15 percent is where we need to go.’”

Corporations do not make their tax returns public so we cannot know the precise size of each corporations’ tax cut from a 15 percent corporate tax rate. Financial filings, however, provide some clue about which corporations pay the most in U.S. corporate taxes and would benefit the most from the lower tax rate.

New analysis by CAPAF provides rough estimates of who benefits and shows that Trump’s plan to cut the corporate tax rate down to 15 percent would:

  • Give the largest 100 U.S. companies (the Fortune 100) a total estimated annual tax cut of $48 billion. They reported $1.1 trillion in profits in their last annual report.
  • Give 10 of the largest U.S. companies alone, including Meta, Comcast, and JPMorgan Chase, a total estimated annual tax cut of $23 billion. They reported more than $520 billion in profits.
  • Give the five largest U.S. oil companies—Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Marathon Petroleum/ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, and Valero Energy—an annual total estimated tax cut of $2.5 billion. They reported more than $90 billion in profits.
  • Give the five largest drug makers—Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, AbbVie, and Bristol-Meyers Squibb—an annual total estimated tax cut of $3.1 billion. They reported over $50 billion in profits.
  • Give five of the largest Wall Street banks—JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs—an annual total estimated tax cut of $4.1 billion. They reported nearly $113 billion in profits.
  • Give five of the largest grocery companies—Kroger, Costco, Albertsons, Target, and Walmart—an annual total estimated tax cut of nearly $1.7 billion. They reported over $29 billion in profits.

Importantly, these tax cuts would be funded by an across-the-board tax that Trump has proposed on imported goods. CAPAF previously estimated that this tax would cost a typical family $1,500 per year.

President Joe Biden, by contrast, would raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent—halfway between the current 21 percent rate and the previous 35 percent rate. This would raise $1.1 trillion over 10 years to help pay for investments in the American people and reduce the deficit.

Trump and the 15 percent corporate tax rate

A 15 percent corporate tax rate has been a long-time goal of Trump and was a centerpiece of his 2016 economic plan. A 15 percent rate is far lower than many previous Republican tax plans, including the 2008 McCain campaign, the 2012 Romney campaign, and the 2014 tax plan by then-House Ways and Means Chair David Camp (R-MI). Each of these plans proposed a 25 percent corporate tax rate. Trump’s goal is even below the 20 percent corporate tax rate proposed by then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) in 2016.

In September 2017, then-President Trump and Republican congressional leadership agreed on a 20 percent corporate tax rate. Trump was the staunchest defender of that low rate and opposed to efforts to accept a slightly higher rate like 22 percent calling it “very much a red line” with then-Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, saying, “The president’s number one issue that is not negotiable is 20 percent corporate taxes.”

Trump later relented and accepted a 21 percent corporate tax rate as a way to offset the cost of reducing the tax rate for the highest earners from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. Later, one of Trump’s former top economic advisers, Gary Cohn, said he thought the 21 percent corporate rate was too low and supported Biden’s proposed 28 percent rate.

The largest corporations benefit from a 15 percent corporate tax rate

Cutting the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 15 percent would cost roughly $1 trillion over 10 years based on Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) and U.S. Treasury estimates.* The benefits of this tax cut will accrue to a handful of large corporations: Even though roughly 500,000 companies pay corporate taxes, just 350 paid 70 percent of the entire corporate tax collected in 2019.

CAPAF analyzed the financial filings of the Fortune 100. These companies reported $1.1 trillion in total profits in their most recent financial filing as of May 2024. CAPAF estimates that Trump’s 15 percent corporate tax rate would give them a collective tax cut of roughly $48 billion annually.

For context, the corporate tax cuts for just the largest 100 companies would be larger than the entire FY 2024 U.S. Department of Education K-12 budget.

Looking at a narrower slice of companies—the ten companies with the largest tax cuts—Trump’s 15 percent corporate tax rate would give them a total tax cut of $23 billion annually. These companies reported more than $520 billion in profits in their most recent financial filing and include Alphabet (Google), JPMorgan Chase, Comcast, and Meta.

This nearly $25 billion in annual tax cuts for just 10 corporations is more than double what the federal government spends on cancer and Alzheimer’s research combined.

Americans upset about the price of gasoline this summer should also know that the 15 percent corporate tax rate would give America’s five largest oil companies an annual total tax cut of $2.5 billion. These companies (Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Marathon-ConocoPhilips, Phillips 66, and Valero Energy) reported more than $90 billion in profits last year.


The contrast between the two presidential plans on corporate taxes could not be clearer. At a time of record corporate profits, President Biden has proposed reversing a portion of President Trump’s corporate tax, asking corporations to pay a 28 percent corporate tax rate—a rate that is seven points below the 2016 level and is supported by President Trump’s former chief White House economic advisor. President Trump, on the other hand, would give tens of billions of dollars of annual tax cuts to America’s largest corporations.

* Authors’ note: This estimate is derived from JCT and Treasury estimates of raising the corporate tax rate with Treasury’s numbers coming in higher than the JCT’s. As discussed in the methodology section, this assumes that the Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (CAMT) in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is repealed.


CAPAF collected the annual financial filings of the companies in the recently released 2024 Fortune 100, which are the 100 largest U.S. corporations by revenue. The authors used the most recent filings that were publicly available as of May 22, 2024. The analysis focused on current U.S. federal income tax expense, which economist Marty Sullivan has found to be a good proxy for actual cash tax payments.

The authors assume that a 15 percent corporate tax rate provides a proportional 28.6 percent tax cut to current federal income tax expense, since a 15 percent corporate rate is 28.6 percent smaller than a 21 percent corporate rate. This is a rough proxy for the actual effect on U.S. corporations’ tax liability since they do not make their actual tax returns public and there can be important interactions with other tax code provisions. We do not report the tax cut for companies with negative U.S. income tax liability since how the tax code deals with losses is complicated, but those estimates do contribute to the total to reflect the fact that losses would reduce some of the overall tax cut.

Applying the proportional reduction to corporations’ entire current U.S. federal tax liability essentially assumes that U.S. federal taxes on foreign income like GILTI and FDII also fall. This is a reasonable assumption since this income actually faces the U.S. 21 percent corporate tax rate but receives deductions that deliver smaller effective rates (i.e., the 10.5 percent minimum tax rate on GILTI is the result of a 50 percent deduction against a 21 percent rate, so it would face a 7.5 percent minimum tax rate if the corporate rate fell to 15 percent). Revenue estimators at the Treasury Department similarly assume that changes to the corporate rate affect the U.S. tax rates on foreign income.

The tax cuts would be smaller if Trump does not repeal the 15 percent CAMT that was enacted as part of the IRA, since that would be binding for more corporations. We assume that the CAMT would be repealed as both Trump and the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 have proposed repealing the IRA—but do not calculate the direct tax cut corporations would receive from CAMT repeal since their financial reports do not break out how much they pay in CAMT. This would only add to the tax cut corporations would receive.

For companies such as Alphabet that only report a combined U.S. federal and state current tax liability, we multiplied the combined liability by 72 percent. That is the ratio of U.S. federal corporate tax receipts ($410 billion) to combined federal and state corporate tax receipts ($569 billion) reported by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis for 2023. For companies like Berkshire Hathaway where the current tax liability combines federal, state, and international taxes, we multiply current tax liability by the fraction of both current and non-current tax liability that is federal.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Brendan Duke

Senior Director, Economic Policy

Will Ragland

Vice President, Research


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