The Washington Post chose the current Dow 30 for this analysis of corporate taxation because it represents a cross section of corporate America. The list spans a variety of major industries, including technology, pharmaceuticals, finance, media and retail.
The performance of these companies every day drives the Dow Jones industrial average, which was created in 1896 by Wall Street Journal editor Charles Dow and initially tracked just 12 companies, including a cattle-feeding firm and a leather company. (General Electric is the only firm from the original list still on it.)
For every company in the Dow 30, The Post examined data from research firm Capital IQ and from public filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Post divided the company’s “current tax provision” figure by its worldwide pretax profits to get a sense of the relationship between a company’s taxes and its income.
The companies do not disclose the actual amount paid to the federal government each year. The current tax provision figure, over time, represents the closest public gauge of a company’s federal tax bills.