Liberal groups: Walmart relies on tax havens

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Walmart might be using dozens of subsidiaries in an array of tax haven countries to lower its tax bill, according to a new report from a liberal group.

Americans for Tax Fairness says that Walmart has not publicly reported its 78 subsidiaries in 15 tax havens, in a report co-authored with the union-backed Making Change at Walmart campaign. Walmart has tried to avoid reporting its subsidiaries in securities filings as well, the report said.

{mosads}The retail giant has almost two dozen shell companies in just Luxembourg, which has long been a favored destination for corporate heavyweights. According to the report, Walmart has some $64 billion worth of assets in Luxembourg, despite having no stores there. The company’s subsidiaries in the country, the groups said, was less than 1 percent between 2010 and 2013.

“This takes Walmart’s irresponsibility to a new level. Walmart’s tax havens are making one of the richest families in the world even richer while Walmart workers and their families continue to struggle to get by on poverty-level wages,” Americans for Tax Fairness said in a statement.

A Walmart spokesman said the report is just the latest attempt by a liberal group to undermine the company, saying the study “includes incomplete, erroneous information designed to mislead readers.”

Randy Hargrove, the spokesman, added that Walmart paid more than $6 billion in corporate income taxes last year – or almost 2 percent of what the Treasury brought in from U.S. corporations.

Liberal organizations have been long-time critics of Wal-Mart’s business policies. Wal-Mart announced this year that it was giving a pay raise to hundreds of thousands of employees.

The new report also comes as countries around the world are seeking to crack down on tax avoidance by large multinational corporations.

Walmart’s goal, the liberal groups said in their report, appears to be both avoiding taxes in the U.S., and in the other countries where Walmart has retail operations. Americans for Tax Fairness suggested that, like other large multinationals, Walmart is holding out for a deal that would protect at least a large portion of its offshore profits.

But Hargrove said that’s not the case. The spokesman said that Walmart invests offshore profits “into physical assets like stores, distribution centers and equipment in other markets around the world.” For that reason, he said that any policy that imposed a minimum tax on offshore profits would likely be a tax increase for the company.

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