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Large tech companies reduce tax burden

Many of the largest tech companies were able to significantly reduce their tax

This time each year, CFOs and company accountants sift through receipts and records to prepare annual tax filings. Public policy research group recently looked at the taxes paid by some tech firms in Silicon Valley.

The report profiles 30 of the top tech companies in the Fortune 500, including Apple, Microsoft, Dell, General Electric and Xerox. Combined, these companies held nearly $430 billion in assets in overseas accounts during 2011, up 21 percent from 2010. At the same time, the companies collectively added 51 foreign subsidiaries between 2010 and 2011. According to the Greenlining report, 19 of those subsidiaries were located in areas designated as tax havens by the Government Accountability Office. During 2011, the effective tax rate for the companies surveyed fell to 16 percent, down from 23.6 percent in 2009. 

U.S. News & World Report cites a recent survey from the Sunlight Foundation that compared corporations' spending on lobbyists with reductions to their effective tax rate. AT&T spent roughly $70 million lobbying Congress between 2007 and 2010, resulting in a tax reduction of more than 40 percent. This saved the company roughly $7 billion, the source reports.