Yesterday, the April 17th federal tax day, WakeUpWalMart.com launched a national tax day protest in 64 cities and 28 states to highlight the fact that Wal-Mart costs taxpayers over $2.5 billion every year. The tax day campaign, entitled “Stop the Wal-Mart Tax,” is the first national grassroots campaign to emphasize that Wal-Mart costs American taxpayers billions of dollars because of its corporate irresponsibility and the fact that uninsured Wal-Mart workers and their families are being forced onto taxpayer-funded public health care. WakeUpWalMart.com also announced new research by the Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) which found that Wal-Mart avoided $2.3 billion in state income taxes from 1999-2005. According to CTJ, by using an array of tax loopholes, such as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Wal-Mart paid less than half of the state income tax that would be expected. In Wisconsin, for example, on estimated income of $852 million from 2000 to 2003, Wal-Mart paid only $3 million in state income tax — a tax rate of 0.35% versus the 7.9% statutory tax rate corporations are supposed to pay in Wisconsin. The CTJ’s new Wal-Mart tax research, which is available at CTJ.org, adds to the growing body of research that shows Wal-Mart’s business practices cost taxpayers billions of dollars every year. “It is outrageous that Wal-Mart, the #1 company on the Fortune 500, a company with $11.3 billion in profits, is shifting billions of dollars of its costs onto taxpayers. The truth is that our tax dollars should help fund better schools, more police on the streets, and better health care, not subsidize Wal-Mart’s irresponsible behavior,” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com. During yesterday’s national Tax Day actions, an estimated 2,000 WakeUpWalMart.com supporters, dressed in blue “Stop the Wal-Mart Tax” t-shirts, gathered at U.S. Post Offices all across America to let citizens know that Wal-Mart must stop shifting its health care and business costs onto U.S. taxpayers. By the end of yesterday’s events, WakeUpWalMart.com supporters will have distributed — both online and on the ground — over a quarter million “Wal-Mart Tax” cards to taxpayers. The “Wal-Mart Tax” card, which can be viewed at WakeUpWalMart.com, cites the fact that previous government studies have found that poorly-paid Wal-Mart workers are forced onto public health care programs and public assistance programs, like Food Stamps, costing taxpayers over $2.5 billion a year. In Massachusetts, according to Sprawl-Busters, the retailer says it paid nearly $19 million in state and local taxes in 2006. Assuming roughly $11 million of that was state income tax, the retailer also avoided $5.4 million by deducting rent it paid to its Delaware-based REIT as a business expense, lowering its taxable income. The company also cost taxpayers $7.2 million in health care costs for 6,000 Wal-Mart workers and dependents on Medicaid. The net result is that Massachusetts taxpayers actually lost money on the 45 Wal-Mart stores in their state.
The goal of the “Stop the Wal-Mart Tax” campaign, which includes press conferences in select cities, is to emphasize the disturbing fact that Wal-Mart, a company with $11.3 billion in profits, is estimated to cost American taxpayers billion of dollars. Just in terms of health care, for example, the cost of providing health care to the growing number of uninsured Wal-Mart workers and their families will cost taxpayers an estimated $9.1 billion over the next 5 years. During the protests in front of U.S. Post Offices, supporters and speakers issued a “Tax Day Challenge” calling on Wal-Mart to “Stop the Wal-Mart Tax” and help lessen the burden on taxpayers and taxpayer-funded public health care programs. WakeUpWalMart.com supporters recruited taxpayers to join WakeUpWalMart.com in the hope that more public and political pressure will force Wal-Mart to stop shifting its health care and business costs onto American taxpayers. The “Stop the Wal-Mart Tax” day of action included over 71 tax day protests in 64 cities targeting over 1 million American taxpayers who will be dropping off their taxes at U.S. Post Offices.