A new report from Americans For Tax Fairness uncovered Walmart’s vast network of international subsidiaries that Walmart is using to hide $76 billion in order to avoid paying taxes in the United States.
Here are some of the key findings from the report:
Walmart has established a vast and relatively new web of subsidiaries in tax havens, while avoiding public disclosure of these subsidiaries.
All told it has 78 subsidiaries and branches in 15 offshore tax havens, none of them publicly reported before. They have remained invisible to experts on corporate tax avoidance in part because of the way Walmart has filed information about them to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Walmart may be skirting the law as there is a legal requirement to list subsidiaries that account for greater than 10 percent of assets or income.
Luxembourg, dubbed a “magical fairyland” by one tax expert because of its ability to shelter profits from taxation, has become Walmart’s tax haven of choice.
It has 22 shell companies there – 20 established since 2009 and five in 2015 alone. Walmart does not have one store there. Walmart has transferred ownership of more than $45 billion in
assets to Luxembourg subsidiaries since 2011. It reported paying less than 1 percent in tax to Luxembourg on $1.3 billion in profits from 2010 through 2013.
Walmart has made tax havens central to its growing International division, which accounts for about one-third of the company’s annual profits.
At least 25 out of 27 (and perhaps all) of Walmart’s foreign operating companies (in the U.K.Brazil, Japan, China and more) are owned by subsidiaries in tax havens. All of these companies have retail stores and many employees. Walmart owns at least $76 billion in assets through shell companies domiciled in the tax havens of Luxembourg ($64.2 billion) and the Netherlands ($12.4 billion) – that’s 90 percent of the assets in Walmart’s International division ($85 billion) or 37 percent of its total assets ($205 billion).
Walmart appears to be playing a long game – from tax deferral to profit windfall.
It is using tax-haven subsidiaries to minimize foreign taxes where it has retail operations and to avoid U.S. tax on those foreign earnings. Walmart apparently hopes the U.S. Congress will reward its use of tax havens by enacting legislation that would allow U.S.-based multinationals to pay little U.S. tax when repatriating current low-taxed foreign earnings (such as to fund infrastructure spending) and pay no tax with the adoption of a territorial tax system.
Republicans have been pushing hard for a tax-free holiday to allow these corporations to bring the money back to the US with no taxes due. Walmart is waiting for Republicans to pass a bill that will reward them for hiding money overseas.
Not only does Walmart keep their workers in poverty through low wages, kill small locally owned businesses when they move into an area, cause an increase in local taxes by getting sweetheart tax free deals from local politicians, tax dodging by corporate giants like Walmart increases taxes on small businesses by $3,200 a year.
The Walton family are the only people who benefit from the Walmart way of doing business. Walmart is one of the biggest tax cheats in the United States, which is why it is time for the IRS and the federal government to investigate Walmart.