Wal-Mart is the second-largest company in the world, collecting more than $496.2 billion dollars a year in profits. The Walton family, who founded the company, have $175 billion in personal wealth, which is more money than over 1,782,000 American families- or everyone in the state of Louisiana. Their company is a glaring symbol of the rampant income inequality that is strangling our middle class and undermining the integrity of our democracy.
Part of the reason they’ve been able to amass such a disgusting amount of money is the way they chronically underpay their employees. Wal-Mart refuses to pay a living wage because they’d rather be welfare queens- the corporation extorts the American taxpayer out of some six billion dollars a year in food stamps, subsidized housing, and Medicare funds.
Which makes it even more galling to discover how much money they’ve cheated out of the government and the American people out of. A new study has discovered that Wal-Mart operates some 78 overseas tax havens, through which they have hidden some $76 billion dollars in assets from the IRS. They operate 6,300 stores in 27 countries, but only report 28% of all their sales when it comes time to file taxes- and “all of Wal-Mart’s roughly 3,500 stores in China, Central America, the U.K., Brazil, Japan, South Africa and Chile appear to be owned through units in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, Curacao and Luxembourg,” according to the advocacy group Americans For Tax Fairness.
It’s an atrocious scheme that major corporations have been using to successfully ripping off the American public for decades, but Wal-Mart is by far the worst offender. It’s a monstrous hypocrisy for a company that pays their workers a pittance, closes stores when unions demand better conditions, and funnels thousands of dollars to union-killing Republicans to be cheating on their taxes so blatantly. Tax reform is desperately needed to make sure these predatory hyper-capitalists pay their fair share.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.