Though corporations have a 21% tax rate (cut from 35%), they are often able to eschew paying federal income tax entirely. Billion-dollar companies are able to pay less in taxes than the average citizen for four main reasons: foreign subsidiaries, depreciation, options, and industry specific tax breaks.
First, companies can move their profits to foreign subsidiaries that are located in countries with lower tax rates. Secondly, big businesses like Amazon can invest their money and “depreciate” by declaring less in income. This “depreciation” allows them to defer taxes. Stock options as part of employees’ compensation, as well as tax breaks for certain industries (alternative energy, oil and gas, etc.) are two other ways the companies on this list have whittled down their tax burdens to nothing.