Walmart’s vast web of offshore subsidiaries help it avoid Maine, U.S. taxes

Walmart’s vast web of offshore subsidiaries help it avoid Maine, U.S. taxes

A map of Walmart's subsidiaries in known tax havens (click to enlarge).

A map of Walmart’s subsidiaries in known tax havens (click to enlarge).

A groundbreaking report released today by Americans for Tax Fairness reveals that mega-retailer Walmart has built a vast, undisclosed web of 78 subsidiaries and branches in 15 offshore tax havens, which may be used to minimize foreign taxes where it has retail operations and to avoid U.S. taxes on those foreign earnings.

These secretive subsidiaries have never been subject to public scrutiny and have remained largely invisible, in part because Walmart has failed to list them in annual filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The report reveals that Walmart operates 22 shell companies with addresses in Luxembourg alone – a country infamous for helping companies dodge taxes.

According to the Maine Legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review and Maine Revenue Services, the state loses $5 million a year in tax revenue due to companies sheltering income in overseas tax havens.

A bill to prohibit the use of offshore tax havens passed in the Democratic-controlled Maine House last month, but went down to defeat in the Republican-controlled Senate. Both votes were along party lines.

According to a report by the Public Interest Research Group, it’s small businesses that are often forced to pick up the tab due to shady tax practices by large corporations, to the tune of $558 each in Maine.

“When Walmart uses these services without paying for them, the small business owners that drive local economies are at a serious disadvantage,” said Will Ikard, director of the Maine Small Business Coalition, in reaction to the report. “Maine’s small business owners know that paying their fair share of taxes is the right thing to do and allows for the kind of investments we depend on.”

Photo credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr

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