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Megacaps pay up in 2017 as greener pastures lie ahead

Among the 10 largest U.S. companies, seven saw their 2017 income tax expense increase by at least 78%. 2017 income tax expenses were higher for all 10 compared to their average five-year numbers. Google's parent, Alphabet, and consumer giant Johnson & Johnson both saw significant increases in their tax charges, reporting effective tax rates of 53.4% and 92.6% respectively, each up significantly from 2016. Both companies cited one-time cash repatriation associated with the GOP tax bill as contributors to the increase.

Apple, king of overseas cash, paid a relatively similar amount of income tax in 2017 as compared to 2016. The company will swipe right on some of that cash, mostly held in corporate debt issues, during 2018 for an estimated tax bill of $38 billion.

* Berkshire Hathaway 2017 tax rate not available at time of publication