Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Which Companies Get the Most Federal Subsidies?

A new report tallies federal grants and tax credits across more than 100 different programs.

With hundreds of programs spanning multiple agencies, it’s hard to say how much individual companies benefit from federal grants and tax credits.

Good Jobs First, an economic development watchdog group, published Tuesday what it considers to be the first comprehensive database of corporate subsidies at the federal level, tallying awards from 137 different programs. In all, the federal government has awarded grants and allocated tax credits totaling $68 billion since 2000.

Spanish electric utility company Iberdrola was identified as the largest single recipient of federal grants and tax credits in the group's report. The company has received nearly $2.2 billion since 2000, mostly stemming from investments in power generation facilities supported by the Recovery Act.

For the most part, it’s a relatively small number of larger corporate players that receive most federal dollars. Two-thirds of all grants and allocated tax credits over the time period reviewed were awarded to 582 firms. Twenty-one of the companies netted more than $500 million in federal grants and subsidies.

The same is true of state and local grants and tax expenditures, although the report noted that larger companies dominate federal subsidies to a somewhat lesser extent at the federal level.

There are a few distinctions in how the federal government awards grants and tax credits compared to states and localities. With state and local tax incentives, governments typically want to retain or lure employers to a specific area. The location isn’t as much of an issue at the federal level. Larger deals are also awarded to specific companies far more often at the state and local level, said report co-author Philip Mattera. 

Different types of awards support different programs. Tax expenditures, particularly the federal mortgage interest deduction, fund homeownership, while grants are more used to back rental assistance, for example.

The Good Jobs First report also examined federal contractors receiving various types of subsidies. About half of the largest for-profit federal contractors had been awarded grants or allocated tax credits since 2000.

A 2012 Pew Charitable Trusts project also tallied federal subsidies across nine economic sectors. Health and housing programs accounted for, by far, the largest share of federal tax expenditures, followed by education, defense and energy.

Parent Companies Receiving More Than $500M Since 2000

Parent Company Federal Grants and Allocated Tax Credits
Iberdrola $2,172,641,752
NextEra Energy $1,938,811,949
NRG Energy $1,730,060,410
Southern Company $1,475,553,962
Summit Power $1,441,936,555
SCS Energy $1,254,154,000
Tenaska $966,252,326
Duke Energy $898,436,173
General Electric $836,524,548
Exelon $734,674,010
EDP-Energias de Portugal $722,468,855
Leucadia National $651,647,087
SunEdison $649,564,635
General Atomics $614,658,667
Abengoa $605,128,646
Air Products & Chemicals $604,170,312
Ameren $594,809,786
E.ON $576,149,728
AES $566,920,950
Invenergy $531,915,559
General Motors $529,398,581
SOURCE: Good Jobs First
Mike Maciag is Data Editor for GOVERNING.
Special Projects
Sponsored Stories
In recent years, local governments have been forced to adapt to a wildly changing world, especially as it pertains to sending bills and collecting payments.
Workplace safety is in the spotlight as government leaders adapt to a prolonged pandemic.
While government employees, students and the general public had to wait in line for hours in the beginning of the pandemic, at-home test kits make it easy to diagnose for the novel coronavirus in less than 30 minutes.
Governments around the nation are working to design the best vaccine policies that keep both their employees and their residents safe. Although the latest data shows a variety of polarizing perspectives, there are clear emerging best practices that leading governments are following to put trust first: creating policies that are flexible and provide a range of options, and being in tune with the needs and sentiments of their employees so that they are able to be dynamic and accommodate the rapidly changing situation.
Service delivery and the individual experience within health and human services (HHS) is often very siloed and fragmented.
In this episode, Marianne Steger explains why health care for Pre-Medicare retirees and active employees just got easier.
Government organizations around the world are experiencing the consequences of plagiarism firsthand. A simple mistake can lead to loss of reputation, loss of trust and even lawsuits. It’s important to avoid plagiarism at all costs, and government organizations are held to a particularly high standard. Fortunately, technological solutions such as iThenticate allow government organizations to avoid instances of text plagiarism in an efficient manner.
Creating meaningful citizen experiences in a post-COVID world requires embracing digital initiatives like secure and ethical data sharing, artificial intelligence and more.
GHD identified four themes critical for municipalities to address to reach net-zero by 2050. Will you be ready?