“Right now, 500,000 Americans are sleeping out on the street and yet companies like Amazon that made billions in profits did not pay one nickel in federal income tax.”
–Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Sanders’s number come from a single-night survey done by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. For a single night in January in 2018, the estimate was 553,000 people.
Sanders has a point that large corporations including Amazon use many tools and strategies to substantially cut down their tax bills. But they do pay some taxes.
“Amazon for many years reinvested all its profits into expansion, with the result that it paid little or no taxes because taxes are calculated based on profits,” Joseph Bishop-Henchman, executive vice president of the Tax Foundation, told us in 2018. “However, in the last few years, it has expanded its warehouse footprint and now pays considerable federal taxes as well as state income and property taxes.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in June that it’s not clear whether Amazon paid taxes in 2018. But its tax rate from 2012 through 2018 was 8 percent, according to the Journal. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
“From 2012 through 2018, Amazon reported $25.4 billion in pretax U.S. income and current federal tax provisions totaling $1.9 billion,” the Journal reported. “That is an 8% tax rate — low, but not zero or negative. Looking back further, since 2002, Amazon has earned $27.7 billion in global pretax profits and paid $3.6 billion in global cash income taxes, a 13% tax rate.”