[OPE-L] [Jurriaan re] The derivation of annual total corporate profit volume in the United States (fiscal 2002)

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Tue Oct 25 2005 - 17:01:26 EDT

---------------------------- Original Message -------------------------
Subject: The derivation of annual total corporate profit volume in the
United States (fiscal 2002)
From:    "Jurriaan Bendien" <adsl675281@tiscali.nl>
Date:    Tue, October 25, 2005 4:15 pm

This is essentially a folksy tale of plusses and minuses. When I was young,
I used to have a cartoon where Charlie Brown asks Lucy "how do you get
those figures?" and Lucy quips, "I just made them up". But as you get
older, you want to see how those figures are really made up. I was
interested to know, for example, how the US Bureau of Economic Analysis
arrived at its aggregate corporate profit figure, which is slotted into
GDP, and announced to the world with great certainty.

By its own testimony, BEA starts off with an IRS figure, and therefore, I
decided to look first of all at IRS data. Because fiscal 2002 (ending 30
September) is the latest year for which detailed data is available online,
I took that year as example, rounding the figures to the nearest billion
to assist legibility.  In 2002, the IRS tax-assessed total receipts of US
corporations with a positive net income (other corps obviously operate at
a loss, although they disburse income) were officially estimated at some
$14,250 billion, including:

Business receipts $12,350 billion
Interest receipts $991 billion
Interest receipts on Government obligations (State and local).. $35 billion
Rent receipts. $102  billion
Royalty receipts $88 billion
Net short-term capital gain reduced by net long-term capital loss.. $13
Net long-term capital gain reduced by net short-term capital loss.. $61
Net gain, non-capital assets.. $47 billion
Dividends received from domestic corporations $13 billion
Dividends received from foreign corporations.. $39  billion
Other receipts.. $512 billion

The total deductions of these corporations permitted by the IRS were
estimated at $13,217 billion, including:

Cost of goods sold $7,541 billion
Compensation of corporate officers $262 billion
Salaries and wages $1,362 billion
Employee benefit programs $167 billion
Pension, profit-sharing, stock bonus, and annuity plans $99 billion
Repairs $85 billion
Bad debts $98 billion
Rent paid on business property $260 billion
Taxes paid $283 billion
Interest paid $638 billion
Amortization $68 billion
Depreciation $411 billion
Depletion $6 billion
Advertising $160  billion
Charitable contributions $10 billion
Net loss, non-capital assets $15 billion
Other deductions $1,752 billion

To obtain a figure for net receipts, the tax department subtracts total
deductions from total receipts, which yields $1,034 billion. To this is
added the "Constructive taxable income from related foreign corporations"
(gross 54 billion) and we then obtain a net total pre-tax corporate income
of $1,053 billion. Of this income, $599 billion is subject to tax. Total
income tax before tax credits works out at $209 billion, and total income
tax after credits $153 billion.

But now BEA kicks in with the NIPA calculation, and they start off their
estimation procedure with a tax-assessed IRS "Total receipts less total
deductions" figure of $550.5 billion.

How do they get that figure, you might ask? I do not know that exactly,
except that IRS data are for fiscal years, and BEA data cover calendar
years. What receipts and deductions are included here?  Perhaps, they take
into account the negative profits from corporations operating at a loss?
Only BEA's "value added" experts know the answer.

Anyway, first they add to that $550.5 billion an "Adjustment for
misreporting on  income tax returns" of $186.5 billion. This includes $26.2
billion worth of "Posttabulation amendments and  revisions" (largely
consisting of expensing all meals and entertainment, oilwell bonus payments
written off, adjustments for insurance carriers and savings and loan
associations, amortization of intangible assets, and tax-exempt interest
income).  It also includes income of organizations not filing corporation
income tax returns ($33.5 billion), income of Federal Reserve banks ($23.7
billion), income of the Farm Credit System and Federal home loan banks
($3.8 billion) and income of nonprofit organizations serving business and
of credit unions  ($6.0 billion). Also added in are:

Depletion on domestic minerals $7.5 billion
An adjustment to depreciate expenditures for mining exploration, shafts, and
wells $2.5 billion
State and local taxes on corporate income $32.2 billion
Interest payments of  regulated investment companies -$100.7 billion
Bad debt expense $168.0 billion

Then they deduct tax-return measures of:

Gains, net of losses, from sale of property $96.4 billion
Dividends received from domestic corporations $68.1 billion
Income on equities in foreign corporations and branches (to U.S.
corporations) $108.1 billion
Costs of trading or issuing corporate securities (including the imputed
financial service charge paid by corporations to domestic securities dealers
who do not charge an explicit commission).   $21.0 billion

But they then add income received from equities in foreign corporations
and branches by all U.S. residents, net of corresponding payments ($155.8

In this way, you obtain the NIPA aggregate "Total profits before taxes",
namely $768.4 billion (about 20% of that consists of profits from abroad,
and 21% are profits of the FIRE sector). To get the after-tax profit
figure, they start off with an IRS "Federal corporate income and excess
profits taxes" figure of $209.7  billion. They add to this "Posttabulation
amendments and revisions, including results of audit and renegotiation and
carryback refunds" ( -27.7 billion), as well as:

Amounts paid to U.S. Treasury by Federal Reserve banks $24.5 billion
State and local taxes on corporate income $32.2 billion
Taxes paid by domestic corporations to foreign governments on income earned
abroad $10.0 billion

And they deduct from this U.S. tax credits claimed for foreign taxes paid
($43.2 billion) and "Other tax credits (including the investment tax
credit) ($12.9 billion).

In this way, you obtain the NIPA total for taxes on corporate income,
namely $192.6 billion. Deducting this income tax from NIPA pre-tax
profits, you get a NIPA "Profits after tax" total of $575.8 billion. Next,
BEA calculates dividend payouts, and they start off with an IRS figure of
"Dividends paid in cash or assets" which is $581.5 billion. To this
figure, they first add "Posttabulation amendments and revisions (which
consist  largely of an adjustment to remove capital gains distributions of
regulated investment companies)  (-$18.9 billion), as well as the

Dividends paid by the Farm Credit System and the Federal Home Loan banks
$1.6  billion U.S. receipts of dividends from abroad, net of payments to
abroad $47.9 billion Earnings remitted to foreign residents from their
unincorporated U.S. affiliates $6.5 billion Interest payments of regulated
investment companies -$100.7  billion

And BEA then deducts "Dividends received by U.S. corporations" ($113.7
billion) and "Earnings of U.S. residents remitted by their unincorporated
foreign affiliates" ( $5.0 billion). At the end of the calculation, this
yields NIPA "Net corporate dividend payments" of  $399.2 billion, implying
an undistributed post-tax profit of $176.6 billion.

Simple, eh ?! From this little exercise, which takes a couple of hours to
do, you can clearly see how the profit volume can grow and shrink...
depending on how you add and subtract. But what the real total profit
volume is, I still don't know at this stage. If however you're seriously
interested in the details of BEA methodology for calculating the profit
volume, see
http://www.bea.doc.gov/bea/ARTICLES/NATIONAL/NIPA/Methpap/methpap2.pdf .
There's also a comparison of NIPA with Standard & Poor's profit figures
here: http://www.bea.doc.gov/bea/ARTICLES/NATIONAL/NIPAREL/2001/0401cpm.p

Many Marxist theoreticians try to get a "surplus value" measure by
deducting a "variable capital" expenditure estimate from net value added,
but if you dig deeper into the data, this obviously will no longer wash.
I'm off to dinner.


Don't know much about geography,
Don't know much trigonometry.
Don't know much about algebra,
Don't know what a slide rule is for.
But I know that one and one is two,
And if this one could be with you,
What a wonderful world this would be.

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