The CTJ said they found roughly a quarter of companies are paying 10 percent of their profit while another quarter are paying a rate approaching 35 percent.
Wells Fargo was one of the four companies that CTJ said moved from paying no taxes from 2008 to 2010 to having a having a positive tax rate (3.8 percent) from 2008 to 2011.
Mary Eshet, spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, said the CTJ report "takes data out of context," adding that the bank paid $3.35 billion in current, federal income taxes paid for 2011.
"Over the past 10 years Wells Fargo has paid more than $33 billion in federal and state corporate income taxes, including nearly $4 billion for 2011," Eshet said. "The company's share of employment-related taxes, property taxes and other taxes amounted to an additional $2 billion during 2011. The years cited by the study were unusual for Wells Fargo, as results included significant losses as a consequence of its acquisition of Wachovia, [12/31/08] which when realized reduced Wells Fargo's taxable income."
Gardner said Wells Fargo's 2011 federal income tax payment of $3.35 billion is "entirely compatible" with what CTJ is pointing out.
"Our study is narrowly tailored to answer the question: do companies pay the 35 percent they say are too high?" he said. "The answer is clearly not."