Walmart has been widely criticized for shifting the costs of its low-wage model onto taxpayers. This report, co-published by IPS and Americans for Tax Fairness, reveals that taxpayers also subsidize much of the cost of Walmart’s executive pay. Specifically, the report calculates the cost of a tax loophole that allows Walmart and other corporations to deduct unlimited amounts from their income taxes for the cost of executive compensation if it is in the form of stock options and other so-called “performance pay.”
Key report findings:
- Walmart reduced its federal tax bills by an estimated $104 million over the past six years by exploiting a tax loophole that allowed eight top executives to pocket more than $298 million in “performance pay” that was fully tax deductible. That sum would have been enough to cover the cost of free school lunches for 33,000 children for those six years.
- Michael T. Duke, Walmart’s recently retired President & CEO and currently Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, pocketed nearly $116 million in exercised stock options and other “performance pay” during the period 2009-2014. That translates into a taxpayer subsidy for Walmart of more than $40 million—enough to cover the average cost of food stamps for 4,200 people for those six years.
- Taxpayers would save $50 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, if Congress closed this perverse “performance pay” loophole by capping the tax deduction at $1 million for each employee’s total compensation, with no exceptions for performance pay.
Download a table with detailed year-by-year data on pay subsidies among Walmart’s top executives [PDF].