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Colorado Walmart employees and supporters join nationwide protests, in front of a Walmart store in Lakewood, Colorado. (Photo: Brennan Linsley/AP

$6.5 Billion: A Low-Ball Estimate of the Walton Family's Haul After 16 Years of Bush, Obama, and Trump Tax Giveaways

As the nation's richest family pulls in more than $1 million every day in tax savings, "it should anger working and middle-class Americans of all political backgrounds that they pay taxes while the Walton family reaps the rewards."

Jake Johnson

What's one similarity between the economic policy agendas of Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump? All three made the Walton family—the wealthiest family in the world—even richer.

According to a new analysis by the union-led campaign Making Change at Walmart (MCAW), the combination of Bush's 2003 tax cuts for the rich, Obama's extension of those tax cuts, and Trump's passage of a $1.5 trillion giveaway to the wealthy last year has netted the owners of Walmart $1.1 million per day in dividend income tax savings for the past 16 years.

"It is time Americans know that the Walton family, the wealthiest family in the world, is being subsidized even as Walmart workers live paycheck-to-paycheck with jobs that have few benefits."
—Amy Ritter, Making Change at Walmart
In total, MCAW found that the Walton's total savings between 2003 and 2018 exceeded $6.5 billion—a finding that the campaign said should infuriate workers struggling to get by on paltry wages.

"It should anger working and middle-class Americans of all political backgrounds that they pay taxes while the Walton family reaps the rewards of a $6 billion dollar tax break," Amy Ritter, communications director for MCAW, said in a statement.

"It is time Americans know that the Walton family, the wealthiest family in the world, is being subsidized even as Walmart workers live paycheck-to-paycheck with jobs that have few benefits," Ritter added. "It is time for our political leaders to wake up to the reality that our broken tax system is helping the least deserving and hurting the most deserving."

By its own admission, MCAW's conclusion that the Walton family has raked in over a million bucks per day in tax savings for the past 16 years is conservative, and underestimates the overall tax windfall the Waltons have received during the three most recent administrations.

In a press release, MCAW—which is run by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union—pointed out that its analysis only examined "the Walton family ownership of Walmart stock through two entities—Walton Enterprises LP/LLC and the Walton Family Holdings Trust. The savings for individual family members, who own millions of additional Walmart shares on which dividends are also paid, was not included in this analysis."

Even so, the numbers are striking: While Walmart's starting wage has risen just slightly over the past 16 years amid soaring grassroots pressure, MCAW estimates that the Walton family has raked in $6,510,847,623 in dividend income tax savings.

"The level of tax savings reflects not only a broken tax system that has been exploited by the Walton family, but shows the indifference the largest Walmart shareholders have to the economic plight facing tens of thousands of workers who depend on taxpayer-funded government assistance and programs," MCAW concluded.


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