A new report from Citizens for Tax Justice in Washington D.C. says big-profit companies are using "loopholes and tax breaks" to avoid paying a single penny in federal income taxes.
The report includes Duke Energy on a list of 26 Fortune 500 companies that have not paid any federal income taxes in five years.
"Duke Energy had a tax rate of a negative 3.5 percent which means they actually got refunds back from the IRS," pointed out Rebecca Wilkins with Citizens for Tax Justice.
Duke Energy has made more than $9 billion in profits since 2008, according to the report.
It also showed research for 288 companies that were profitable for the last five years. On average they paid 19.4 percent in federal income tax.
Statutes require corporations to pay 35 percent of their profit in taxes each year.
"You hear corporate lobbyists complain the U.S. has the highest tax rate in the world, and that we can't be competitive with companies located in other countries," added Wilkins. "That's just not true. We may have a high statutory rate, but the effective rate companies are actually paying is much, much less."
Duke Energy Spokesperson Tom Williams told FOX8 the reason the company hasn't had to pay income taxes dates back to 2009 and the federal stimulus package.
"When companies like Duke Energy spend money on big construction projects or big capital projects, we're able to expense the cost of that project," Williams explained. "This is the way the system was set up, to stimulate job growth. It's worked. Let's not forget these federal taxes will be paid, just paid over a longer period."
Williams said Duke Energy employed thousands of people for those projects over the last five years and the company took advantage of the legal, available tax breaks while doing so.
He also emphasized that Duke Energy is one of the biggest taxpayers locally and statewide.
"Companies like to continue their construction projects. We did not scale back during recession. We actually accelerated these projects, created more jobs than would be otherwise created. It was well within the law. It was the way the law was set up to begin with. If they have a problem with that, they can bring it up with the people who passed the law, members of Congress."
Wilkins said they are doing just that.
She added simply, "If you paid any federal income tax last year, you paid more than Duke Energy did. I think that includes a lot of us. I think we should be upset about it."