Econoquiz Answers

Test how well you understand the McCain and Obama tax ideas.

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1. Out of 30 industrialized countries, the total U.S. corporate-tax rate, including federal and state taxes, ranks where?
Answer: A, second highest. The combined U.S. corporate tax rate is 39.25 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, second only to Japan's 39.5 percent.

2. Out of 30 industrialized countries, the personal income-tax rate for an average American wage earner, including all government taxes, ranks where?
Answer: B, near the middle. An average American worker pays about 24.5 percent of his earnings in taxes.

3. Which company paid the most income tax in 2007?
Answer: B, Exxon. You may have expected to hear that Exxon, often vilified for its huge profits, gets off easy on taxes. But in 2007, it paid $29.9 billion in income taxes. Wal-Mart, the biggest American company, paid just $6.7 billion.

4. Which of the 10 biggest U.S. companies earned a profit in 2007 but paid no taxes?
Answer: D, Citigroup, which had net earnings of $3.6 billion in 2007, but paid no taxes because of big losses and tax write-offs in its subprime investments and consumer lending division.

5. Of 30 industrialized countries, the lowest corporate-tax rate is in:
Answer: C, Ireland, which has a combined corporate tax rate of just 12.5 percent, one reason it has attracted lots of business from multinational firms.

6. The highest average personal income-tax rate is in:
Answer: B, Germany. Bet you wanted to say France, but the average earner there pays just 27.8 percent of gross pay in taxes, according to the OECD. In Germany, it's 42.8 percent.

7. Companies also pay payroll taxes for each employee, mostly as their contribution to Social Security costs. The total combined employee/employer tax payment is highest in:
Answer: C, Belgium, where the total combined tax rate is 55.5 percent for an average worker. In the United States, it's 30 percent. Mexico is the lowest, at 15.3 percent.

8. Of the 10 largest U.S. companies, how many had an effective tax rate in 2007 higher than the average of 39.25 percent?
Answer: B, three. They were Exxon-Mobil (44 percent), Chevron (41.9 percent), and ConocoPhillips (49 percent).

9. Of the 10 biggest U.S. companies that earned a profit in 2007, which had the lowest effective tax rate?
Answer: B, General Electric. Most multinational companies lower their U.S. tax rate by doing lots of business in countries where taxes are lower. Vast overseas operations helped G.E. lower its effective tax rate to 15.5 percent in 2007.

10. Of 30 industrialized countries, taxes on wealthy individuals are highest in:
Answer: D, Denmark, where the overall average tax rate for the wealthiest individuals is 49.5 percent. In the United States, its 30.3 percent. Taxes on the wealthy are lowest in Mexico and Korea.

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  • Rick Newman

    Rick Newman is the author of Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback to Success and the co-author of two other books. Follow him on Twitter or e-mail him at rnewman@usnews.com.