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Authors of Walmart Executive Bonuses Report Thank Walmart for Implicitly Admitting the Substance of the Study

WASHINGTON — The authors of the new report Walmart’s Executive Bonuses Cost Taxpayers Millions today thanked the Walmart company for confirming the content of the report – in this case by refusing to offer a denial.

The report, a joint effort by Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, asserts that Walmart received $104 million in taxpayer subsidies over a six-year period due to tax deductions for “performance-based” executive compensation.

In response to coverage of the report in Forbes, an unnamed Walmart spokesperson asked the Forbes reporter to post the following official statement. The statement, presumably the strongest defense the corporation could muster, does not address the substance of the ATF-IPS report in any way.

This is the same group that put out a similar flawed report last year, based on promoting their agenda rather than on the facts. Unlike some companies, Walmart pays billions of dollars a year in U.S. federal, state and local taxes, helping to fund education, public safety, and infrastructure improvements in the communities where we operate. Walmart is a pay for performance company.  Our executive compensation program has been developed in the same way as other companies across America, and it complies with the federal tax laws.

A similar statement appeared in a story in The Huffington Post.

The Walmart statement begins with an ad hominem attack without substantiation. An ad hominem argument is a widely-recognized logical fallacy; it is also known as a fallacy of irrelevance.

Moreover, the Walmart statement mentions “a similar flawed report last year.” But neither Americans for Tax Fairness nor the Institute for Policy Studies issued a report on Walmart last year. ATF released the report “Walmart on Tax Day: How Taxpayers Subsidize America’s Biggest Employer and Richest Family” in April 2014 – presumably that is the study to which the spokesperson refers.

The rest of Walmart’s official response quoted in the Forbes story does not address any of the report’s conclusions. Walmart does not deny that it paid $104 million less in federal income taxes because it structured the pay packages of its top eight executives as “performance-based” compensation. It does not challenge the fact that it saved $40 million in federal taxes with CEO Michael Duke’s pay package alone.

Walmart’s defense of its executive compensation program is that it “has been developed in the same way as other companies across America” – in other words, everyone is doing it.

Walmart’s final claim is that the company “complies with the federal tax laws.” But this is exactly the point of the ATF-IPS report – that the law should be changed and the “CEO loophole” should be closed so corporations like Walmart don’t get additional tax breaks for inflated CEO bonuses.

“I’d like to thank Walmart for confirming the conclusions of our report by refusing an easy opportunity to deny them,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “If Walmart wants to debate the facts, we welcome that debate.”

“The fact remains that Walmart received $104 million in tax breaks because of the CEO loophole,” said Sarah Anderson. “American taxpayers should demand that Congress close this outrageous loophole.”

 

Americans for Tax Fairness is a diverse coalition of 400 national and state organizations that collectively represent tens of millions of members. The organization was formed on the belief that the country needs comprehensive, progressive tax reform that results in greater revenue to meet our growing needs. ATF is playing a central role in Washington and in the states on federal tax-reform issues.

The Institute for Policy Studies is a 50-year-old multi-issue research center that has conducted path-breaking research on executive compensation for 20 years. A May 2013 IPS report, ‘Fix the Debt’ CEOs Enjoy Taxpayer-Subsidized Pay, was the first to put a price tag on the tax subsidies specific corporations have enjoyed from the “performance pay” loophole.