Just because Walmart figured out a way to sell consumer products for cheaper than your local mom and pop shop, effectively putting it out of business, doesn’t mean that this multinational corporation is evil — or so goes the claim by many a radical capitalist in defense of one of the world’s most hated businesses. Too bad this isn’t actually the case, though, as it has now come to light that part of Walmart’s takeover strategy involves hiding its billions of dollars in profits in offshore tax havens to avoid paying the exorbitant taxes otherwise incurred by small businesses.
More than $76 billion worth of Walmart’s assets, according to a new report, are held overseas in trusts and other crafty financial instruments, shielding the company from its U.S. tax burden. A shocking 90% of Walmart’s overseas assets are currently being held in either Luxembourg or the Netherlands, the former of which doesn’t even have a single Walmart store within its borders.
By manipulating its holdings into at least 78 offshore subsidiaries and branches, more than 30 of which were created just in the past six years, Walmart has avoided paying more than $3.5 billion in income taxes during this time, according to research compiled by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union. Walmart units in Luxembourg alone, where the company doesn’t have any stores, somehow reported $1.3 billion in profits between 2010 and 2013, for which it paid taxes at a rate of less than 1%.
According to Bloomberg Business, every single one of Walmart’s roughly 3,500 stores located in China, Central America, the U.K., Brazil, Japan, South Africa and Chile are owned by special units in the British Virgin Islands, Curacao and Luxembourg, all of which are tax havens. Such information was gathered from publicly available documents filed by Walmart and its many subsidiaries in countries around the world.