The United States pays higher corporate taxes than most other G20 countries, but it's not as high as it looks at first glance. Companies often pay much lower than the rate that is written into law after taking into account deductions, credits and other provisions of the tax code.

Why this matters: One of the GOP's biggest arguments for lowering the corporate tax rate — now likely to go down from 35 to 21 percent in the final tax bill that's being written now — is that it will make the U.S. more competitive internationally. While economists disagree on whether the bill would effectively do this, it is true that rates in the U.S. are comparatively higher than in other countries.

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Data: CBO via Tax Foundation. Note: Italy (-23%) is not included in the Marginal effective rate. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

What the different rates measure, per the Congressional Budget Office:

  • Statutory rate: The legal tax rate. Federally, the top corporate rate is 35 percent, but with state taxes factored in, the total average rate was 39.1 percent in 2012.
  • Average corporate rate: The total amount of corporate taxes a company pays as a share of its income.
  • Effective marginal rate: A corporation's tax burden on returns from a marginal investment.

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China says U.S. is "endangering peace" with high-level visit to Taiwan

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a June briefing in Washington, DC. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday night he will lead a delegation to Taiwan "in the coming days."

Why it matters: It's the highest-level visit by a U.S. cabinet official to Taiwan since 1979. Azar is also the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit the island state in six years. The visit has angered China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory. Chinese officials accused the U.S. early Wednesday of "endangering peace" with the visit, AFP reports.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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At least 100 killed, 4,000 injured after massive explosion rocks Beirut

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.

Driving the news: At least 100 people have been killed and over 4,000 injured in the blast — and the death toll is likely to rise, the Lebanese Red Cross said, per AP. Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosions occurred at a warehouse that had been storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for the past six years.