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Introduction to corporate taxation

A well-worn saying holds that nothing is certain but death and taxes. Unhappily, governments are also responsible for the former, and they are virtually always the source of the latter. Since the United States is the world’s largest capital market, we will focus on taxes levied on US citizens and corporations. Most of the specific tax rates and provisions applied in the first half of the 1990s. By far the most important taxes for investment decision-making are personal and corporate income taxes.

Corporate Income Tax

In the US and most other countries, the corporate form of organization is the most important in terms of dollar value of assets owned, although many more firms are organized as partnerships or single proprietorships. Legally, a corporation is regarded as a separate entity, while partnerships are considered as extensions of their owners. Income earned through proprietorships and partnerships is taxed primarily through the personal tax levied on their owners. Income earned by a corporation may be taxed twice – once when it is earned via corporate income tax and again when it is received as dividends by holders of the firm’s securities, via personal income tax.

Corporate Tax Rates

The corporate income tax is relatively simple in one respect. There are usually only a few basic rates. For example, in 2010 there was a tax rate of 15 per cent applicable on the first $25, 000 of taxable income, a rate of 18 per cent applicable to the next $25, 000 a rate of 30 per cent applicable to the next $25, 000, 40 per cent to the next $25, 000 and finally a rate of 46 per cent applicable to all income over $100, 000. The marginal rate is more relevant for most decisions. For example, if a corporation was considering an investment that would increase its income from $65, 000 to $70, 000 each year, the increase in income would be (1-0.3) X $5, 000. The larger a corporation’s taxable income, the closer its average tax rate comes to the higher marginal rate. Overall such corporations pay taxes equal to virtually the largest marginal rate (46 per cent).

Defining Income

For tax purposes, corporate income is defined as revenue minus expenses. The problems arise in measuring these two elements. The most dramatic instance of this difficulty concerns depreciation of assets. If a corporation buys a computer for $1 million, it is entitled to eventually charge off this cost as a deductible expense when computing taxable income. On 46 per cent rate, this represents an eventual tax saving of $460, 000. The sooner the cost can be written off, the greater the benefit to the company. For the purpose of reporting corporate income to the IRS, assets are grouped into four broad classes. Automobiles and research equipment are considered three-year property, most business equipment is considered five-year property, buildings are usually considered as fifteen-year property.

Another vexing problem associated with the measurement of corporate income concerns the cost of inventory sold during the year. This arises when prices are changing fairly rapidly and a company holds inventory for long periods. To take a fairly simple case, imagine a retailer of sailboats. At the start of the year he has 100 in stock, all purchased for $10, 000 each. During the year he takes delivery of 100 more but must pay $11, 000 each, ending with 90 in stock. The boats are sold for $15, 000 each. What was his income?

The question concerns the relevant cost of the 110 boats that were sold and of the 90 that remain. The firm may have sold all the ‘old’ boats first, or all the ‘new’ boats, or a mixture of the two. An accountant may assume any of the above combinations without regard to the actual facts of the situation.

The impact of different inventory valuation methods is illustrated in such a way: When prices have been rising, the LIFO method will permit a corporation to charge more to cost in the present and less in the future. This will lower taxes in the present and raise them in the future. However before 1990 many companies used the LIFO method, suggesting that in times of moderate inflation many managers were willing to sacrifice some real benefits to improve the appearance of their company’s financial statements.

In all cases, investors should examine depreciation and inventory procedures carefully when assessing the profitability of a company.


II. Answer the questions:

  1. What are the tax advantages of a single proprietorship/partnership versus a corporation?
  2. In what senses is corporate income liable to double taxation?
  3. Why is the marginal rate of taxation most relevant for investment decision?
  4. In the US, how long does it take to depreciate a photocopier?
  5. Why do most companies nowadays operate the LIFO inventory method?


III. Match the equivalents:



1. At source a) Амортизация
2. Average rate b) Амортизация издержек
3. Basic rate c) Базисная ставка
4. Capital market d) Взимать налоги
5. Charge (v) off costs f) Главный налоговый инспектор
6. Chef inspector of taxes g) Государственное страхование
7. Corporation income-tax h) Налог, сбор
8. Depreciation i) Налоговая скидка
9. Income-related j) Налоговое управление в США
10. International revenue service k) Налоговый служащий
11. Levy (v) taxes l) Налогооблагаемый доход
12. Marginal rate m) Подоходный налог с компаний
13. National insurance n) Подоходный налог с физических лиц
14. PAYE o) Предельная налоговая ставка
15. Personal income tax p) Рынок капитала
16. Tax q) Связанный с доходом
17. Tax allowance r) Система сбора подоходного налога путем вычета из заработной платы
18. Taxable income s) Средняя налоговая ставка
19. Taxman t) У источника


IV. True or False?

  1. A well-worn saying holds that nothing is certain but health and death.
  2. A corporation is regarded as a separate entity.
  3. Partnerships are considered as extension of their owners.
  4. Income earned by a corporation can be taxed only once.
  5. Income earned through partnerships may be taxed twice.
  6. The corporation tax is relatively simple in one respect.
  7. For tax purposes, corporate income is defined as expenses minus revenue.
  8. The problem is to measure these two elements.
  9. For the purposes of reporting corporate income to the IRS, assets are grouped into five broad classes.
  10. The problem of measuring corporate income concerns the cost of inventory sold during the year, because its price is constant.
  11. Investors should examine depreciation and inventory procedures carefully when assessing the profitability of a company.


Text B

Business organization


Annual accounts Годовой отчет
Assistant to manager Помощник руководителя
Board of directors Совет директоров
Business organization Структура бизнеса
Companies Act Закон о компаниях
Contribute (v) capital Внести капитал
Function Функция, должность
Functional structure Функциональная структура
Gain (v) control over the company Получить контроль над компанией
Limited liability Ограниченная ответственность
Line authority Линейные полномочия
Line structure Линейная структура
Matrix structure Матричная система
Name (n) of the business Наименование фирмы
Partnership Товарищество
Pay (v) out dividend Выплачивать дивиденды
Private limited company Частная акционерная компания
Product manager Менеджер, ответственный за конструирование, производство и реализацию промышленности
Provide (v) capital Предоставлять капитал
Public limited company Публичная акционерная компания
Publish accounts Публиковать отчет
Raise money Собрать капитал
Registrar of the Companies Регистр компаний
Report (v) to Подчиняться кому-либо
Retailing Розничная торговля
Sell shares Продавать акции
Share Акция
Shareholders Акционеры
Sole trader Единоличный торговец
Staff position Должность в персонале
Stock exchange Фондовая биржа
Subordinate Подчиненный
Superior (n) Начальник
The Memorandum of Association Устав акционерного общества
Unlimited liability Неограниченная ответственность


I. Read the text and translate it into Russian:



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