Effective Tax Rate Rises for Industrials

U.S.-based firms have higher ETRs than their global counterparts. But some will benefit from favorable tax treatments they receive on their investm...
Kathy HoffelderMay 17, 2012

The effective tax rate, or so-called real tax rate after expenses and tax offsets are applied, was a volatile statistic during the financial crisis. To be sure, volatility has subsided for most firms amid the economic recovery, according to one study. At the same time, however, industrial companies have seen their ETR rise.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report covering the ETRs of 324 industrial product and service companies across the aerospace, chemicals, transportation, and industrial manufacturing sectors shows that the average three-year ETR through the end of 2011 was 26.3%, up 0.7% from the tally of 25.6% from the prior year.

With representatives of U.S. corporations reminding politicians practically daily about the high relative tax rates in this country, it’s no surprise that U.S.-based firms in the study had higher ETRs than many of their global counterparts, while companies based in Canada and Germany, for example, had lower ETRs.

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Tax losses and changes in valuation allowances were key areas cited as having negative effects on their ETRs. Specifically, 26 companies claimed this category as having an unfavorable impact to the tune of about 1.1%.

But some bright spots were noted in the chemicals sector, which typically has invested in high-growth, emerging markets. “Our analysis shows stronger recovery in the chemical and industrial manufacturing sectors than in engineering and construction sectors, where conditions are still challenging for some companies,” the report said.

As emerging markets develop and companies increasingly expand into these territories, more companies will benefit from the lower tax rates within developing countries, said Michael Burak, U.S. and global industrial products tax leader for PwC, in a statement.

Tax incentives contributed to some of the better performance of the chemicals sector, as well as aerospace and defense areas, according to the report. The incentives mostly came in the form of production-related deductions, research and development credits, and general business credits.

Now that recovery is under way, the report said, companies are investing in research as a way of differentiating and driving their business.

For 23 of the companies in the study overall, tax incentives improved their ETRs. Firms benefited from incentives by 2.6% of their ETR, on average. Twelve firms in the study reported domestic manufacturing deductions and nine had research and development credits.