The IRS recently released its 2010 Statistics of Income (SOI) for corporate income tax returns. Many of the report’s 362 pages are filled with tables showing such information as the number of S-Corporation returns with net income from a trade or business, or the number of corporation returns with net income and foreign ownership of 50 percent or more – perhaps more than even the most dedicated tax enthusiast wants to peruse.

Nevertheless, a few highlights provide a glimpse of changes in the economy:

1) The number of active corporations actually dropped by about 0.2 percent between 2009 and 2010, declining to 5.814 million. 

2) Of these active returns, 3.26 million, or about 56 percent, had some net income.

3) Total assets for active corporations grew by more than 5 percent between 2009 and 2010, increasing from $75.9 to $79.9 trillion. By industry, the largest percentage jump in total assets occurred in the wholesale sector, which increased 22.5 percent. About one million returns showed no assets.

4) Corporations’ total receipts also increased about 5 percent, growing from $24.8 to $26.2 trillion between 2009 and 2010.

5) Corporate pre-tax profit skyrocketed 52.3 percent, increasing from $919 billion to $1.4 trillion. Income subject to tax also grew healthily, climbing from about $895 billion to $1 trillion.

6) Pass-through entities, such as REITs and S-corporations, accounted for about 70 percent of the 5.8 million active corporations in 2010. The overall number of shareholders: 7.04 million. About 2.6 million of these returns showed a net income, although about 1.053 million returns had net income of less than $25,000.

7) By far, the largest portion of corporate returns consists of those with assets of up to $500,000.  These enterprises accounted for about two-thirds of the 5.8 million returns.

8) While returns of companies with assets of $2.5 billion or more made up just .04 percent of all returns, they accounted for more than 80 percent of all assets.

9) Significantly more companies are filing their returns electronically – 3.019 million corporate returns in 2010, versus 2.17 million in 2009.

10) Industries with the highest percentage change in pre-tax profits: real estate rental and leasing, up more than 350 percent; mining, up nearly 300 percent and transportation/warehousing, which jumped 234 percent. Overall, pre-tax profits were up 48 percent. The only industry to show a decline was health care and social assistance, and even that was very slight: .59 percent.

11) By sector, the largest number of returns – about 961,000 – came from wholesale and retail trade. Next in line: professional, scientific and technical services, with about 880,000 returns.

12) The largest tax credit is the foreign tax credit.

13) Of about 5.8 million corporate returns, just 8,600 had alternative minimum tax (AMT) items.

The report’s statistical estimates are based on a sample of 102,300-plus unaudited returns for the 2010 tax year.