State Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison) announced this week that he is filing two bills that would limit large corporations like Wal-Mart and other big box stores’ from using public subsidies to build their empires. According to a press release from the Democractic Party of Wisconsin, one of Pocan’s bills would cap the amount of sales tax collected that a business can keep from the current unlimited retention of one-half of one percent per filing, to a maximum of $1,000 per filing, a move that would save taxpayers approximately $5.7 million annually. The second bill would prohibit state agencies like the Department of Commerce from providing grants to local governments for the purpose of luring large retail companies like Wal-Mart to their community. “For decades, big box stores like Wal-Mart have bamboozled the government into a corporate scam that drains taxpayer dollars to support their bottom line, while they provide low paying jobs and destroy local economies,” Representative Pocan said. “It’s time to end corporate welfare as we know it in Wisconsin.” Pocan’s sales tax cap bill is a response to Wal-Mart’s bragging that they collect $160 million annually in Wisconsin in sales tax. The company is legally able to keep one-half of one percent, or approximately $800,000 annually based on their sales under current law. “Small businesses in Wisconsin have been collecting sales tax money for the state for decades, retaining a small amount for their trouble. But state statutes regulating this were written long before big box stores like Wal-Mart were created. No one ever conceived that a retailer like Wal-Mart would bilk the public out of hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for doing a basic public service,” said Pocan. The second bill would ban state agencies like the Department of Commerce from providing subsidies to big box retailers looking to do business in Wisconsin. Currently, local communities get into bidding wars to lure stores like Wal-Mart, giving up tax revenues and providing infrastructure costs like building sewer and water for stores locating in their communities. The only winners in these wars are the big box stores. “Wal-Mart is a mega retailer with two percent of the gross domestic product in sales annually in the United States. We do not need to be subsidizing the wealthiest corporations to profit from consumers in Wisconsin,” Pocan said. “Big box stores – most notably characterized by Wal-Mart – are famous for moving into communities, getting tax breaks and subsidies to locate there, creating low-paying jobs with poor or no health care, and often force local small businesses to close,” according to Pocan.
For earlier stories about how Wal-Mart uses public welfare to build its empire, search Newsflash by “welfare.” For a copy of “Build with Corporate Welfare: Wal-Mart’s Distribution System,” contact [email protected] See also the Good Jobs First publication, “Shopping for Subsidies.”