What Are Big Companies’ Most Common Tax Reduction Methods?

Konstantin Lichtenwald

February 2, 2023


Large companies use a complex set of tax reduction methods and tax credits to minimize their tax liabilities. Some of the most common methods include net operating losses, accelerated depreciation, tax credits, and profit shifting. Listed corporations report their income in two ways, book income, and taxable income. Book income is the actual money they receive in profits from their businesses, while taxable income is the money they pay in taxes on those profits.

Net operating loss in tax reduction methods

One of the most common methods large companies employ to reduce their tax is by taking advantage of net operating loss. The net operating loss is when a company’s business expenses exceed its revenues in a given tax year. This typically happens when the company has a low-profit margin or incurred expenses due to theft, a disaster, or other unforeseen circumstance.

If a company has a net operating loss in a given year, the IRS allows them to use this amount as a deduction on future tax returns to offset its profits in those years. This process is called “loss carryforward,” It is a great way to even out taxable income over time.

There are limitations to NOL carryforwards, and some states have different restrictions. The CARES Act temporarily suspended these restrictions for 2018 through 2020, but they will apply again in 2021. They can be useful tools for reducing tax liability in the future, but it is best to discuss your situation with a tax professional before taking action.

Accelerated depreciation of tax reduction methods

For accounting and tax purposes, the IRS allows businesses to deduct the cost of business-related assets (e.g., machinery and equipment) faster than they decline in value. This is known as accelerated depreciation.

Accelerated depreciation helps managers save money by reducing taxable income in earlier years and increases tax savings later on. This is especially useful for start-ups and businesses with large equipment expenses that want to offset those costs with tax benefits.

In addition to allowing companies to save money, accelerated depreciation can also be used by property owners looking to lower setup costs and reduce their initial tax bill as they get their rental business off the ground. But be sure to consider how much the accelerated depreciation will help you in the short term and if it will affect tax credits in the future or play into depreciation recapture when you sell the property.

Tax credits in tax reduction methods

One of the most common methods large companies employ to reduce their tax is tax credits. These state subsidies allow companies to deduct all or part of the expenses they spend on a specific type of activity on their income tax returns.

For example, investment tax credits reduce a company’s taxes on amounts spent on new facilities and equipment. Some states also grant job creation tax credits for hiring disadvantaged workers.

Credits are generally more valuable to taxpayers than deductions because they lower a tax bill dollar for dollar. This means that a taxpayer with a $3,000 tax bill can save $1,000 by qualifying for a tax credit.

There are three types of tax credits: nonrefundable, refundable, and partially refundable. Nonrefundable credits can only lower a taxpayer’s tax liability to zero and will not give any excess value back as a refund. On the other hand, refundable credits can lower a taxpayer’s tax liability to a negative number and then refund any remaining value as a cash check.

Profit shifting

Large companies use a maze of tax breaks and deductions to minimize and often eliminate their corporate income tax liabilities. These include accelerated depreciation, offshoring of profits, generous deductions for appreciated employee stock options, and tax credits.

One of the most common methods large companies employ to reduce their tax is profit shifting, moving profits from a high-tax country to a low-tax jurisdiction. This involves companies moving their profits to a foreign affiliate by making large, tax-deductible payments, such as interest payments, to that affiliate.

The 2017 tax law introduced a set of international taxes designed to limit the incentive for multinationals to profit shift. These policies, such as the Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) minimum tax and the base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT), have made a small dent in profit shifting. This year, policymakers have the opportunity to enact crucial changes that would strengthen these laws and better deter profit shifting.