Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States, with 1.4 million employees. The company, which is number one on the Fortune 500 in 2013 and number two on the Global 500, had $16 billion in profits last year on revenues of $473 billion. The Walton family, which owns more than 50 percent of Walmart shares, reaps billions in annual dividends from the company. The six Walton heirs are the wealthiest family in America, with a net worth of $148.8 billion. Collectively, these six Waltons have more wealth than 49 million American families combined.
This report finds that the American public is providing enormous tax breaks and tax subsidies to Walmart and the Walton family, further boosting corporate profits and the family’s already massive wealth at everyone else’s expense. Specifically, our analysis shows that:
Walmart and the Walton family receive tax breaks and taxpayer subsidies estimated at more than $7.8 billion a year – that is enough money to hire 105,000 new public school teachers. The annual subsidies and tax breaks to Walmart and the Waltons include the following:
- Walmart receives an estimated $6.2 billion annually in mostly federal taxpayer subsidies. The reason: Walmart pays its employees so little that many of them rely on food stamps, health care and other taxpayer-funded programs.
- Walmart avoids an estimated $1 billion in federal taxes each year. The reason: Walmart uses tax breaks and loopholes, including a strategy known as accelerated depreciation that allows it to write off capital investments considerably faster than the assets actually wear out.
- The Waltons avoid an estimated $607 million in federal taxes on their Walmart dividends. The reason: income from investments is taxed at a much lower tax rate than income from salaries and wages.
In addition to the $7.8 billion in annual subsidies and tax breaks, the Walton family is avoiding an estimated $3 billion in taxes by using specialized trusts to dodge estate taxes – and this number could increase by tens of billions of dollars. Walmart also benefits significantly from taxpayer-funded public assistance programs that pump up the retailer’s sales. For example, Walmart had an estimated $13.5 billion in food stamp sales last year.
18% of all food stamps are spent at Walmart and many Walmart employees are on food stamps. How many employees remains unknown.
Meanwhile, the Waltons earn about $1.5 million per hour doing nothing but sitting on the dividends from the stocks handed to them by their father, Sam Walton.
The More You Know…