The effective tax rate a company pays can vary significantly from the federal tax rate of 35% based on many factors -- but in general, it appears to be rising, according to a study by Charles Mulford, director of the Georgia Tech Financial Reporting & Analysis Lab. Multinational companies pay anywhere from 21.8% to more than 40%, depending on foreign operations, tax credits and other factors. The study says, though, that the trend is toward a higher rate, with the median effective tax rate increasing to 27.2% in 2011, from 24.1% in 2009.

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