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Treasury secretary Janet Yellen.
Andrew Harnik/AP

The biggest companies in the world haven't felt the sting of the pandemic quite like everyone else.

New data from a Bloomberg Economics Study shows that the 50 biggest companies on the planet increased their value by $4.5 trillion in 2020 alone-and that's thanks, at least in part, to historically low tax rates.

The top 50 companies by market capitalization paid a median effective tax rate of just 17.4% in 2020, less than half of what they paid in 1990.

On top of that, according to the Bloomberg Economics Study, profit margins soared over the same period from 6.9% to 18.2%.

The largest companies in the world are paying lower taxes and netting more profits than in decades past, and that's leading them to hold an unprecedented position in the global economy.

In fact, the top 50 firms by market cap now make up nearly 30% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2010, that figure was just over 10%, and in 1990, it was less than 5%.

In a speech in April, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said there's been a "30-year race to the bottom on corporate tax rates" and called for "a more level playing field in the taxation of multinational corporations."

The Treasury Department has pushed for a 15% minimum global tax rate in hopes of preventing the largest multinational corporations from evading taxes by moving their profits to low-tax jurisdictions.

Yellen even said that the 15% figure should be the "floor and that discussions should continue to be ambitious and push that rate higher."

On top of that, a proposal from President Biden would lift the US corporate tax rate to 28%, after it was slashed from 35% in former President Donald Trump's 2017 tax bill.

"What I'm proposing is that we meet in the middle: 28%. Twenty-eight percent – we'll still have lower corporate rates than any time between World War II and 2017," Biden said.

"It will generate over $1 trillion in taxes over 15 years," he added.

Despite the historically low effective tax rates for the largest corporations, many argue raising taxes could hurt American business.

The Business RoundTable, a collection of hundreds of American CEOs, released a survey in April that showed 98% of CEOs believe President Biden's corporate tax hikes will hurt American corporate "competitiveness."

The CEOs cited studies like this one, released by the National Association of Manufacturers, which showed Biden's new tax bill could kill close to 1 million jobs in the next two years.

While CEOs are resisting tax hikes, a new Morning Consult/Politico poll shows most Americans favor them. 65% of voters polled said they support President Biden's tax hikes on corporations to pay for infrastructure spending.

Read the original article on Business Insider