By Jim Hightower
July 19, 2014
The nation’s biggest drugstore chain may pretend it’s a Swiss company to cut its tax bill.
How would you react if one of your neighbors announced that while he obviously benefits from having clean water, highways, Medicare, police protection, parks, schools, and other public services, he was no longer going to pay his share of the taxes that make them available?
And what if this neighbor also said he was renouncing his U.S. citizenship to become a citizen of Switzerland because he could pay less in taxes there? Not that he was actually moving to that cold country, mind you.
No, no, he’d still be living right here in the good ol’ USA, benefitting from all those public services that taxpayers like you provide.
Surely, you think, this has to be a joke. Well, meet Gregory Wasson of Long Grove, Illinois, who has announced all of the above.
While this man isn’t personally your neighbor, the corporation he heads might be, which has stores in hundreds of neighborhoods all across the country. Wasson is CEO of Walgreen Co., America’s biggest drugstore chain.
But Wasson no longer wants Walgreen to be American, so he’s planning to reincorporate it in Switzerland.
Why? To skirt about $800 million a year in corporate taxes that the drugstore chain owes America. Of course, its stores won’t move to Switzerland. Wasson fully intends to keep extracting profits from our neighborhoods and for Walgreen to keep benefiting from all the public services that this nation provides, from police to highways.
Oh, one more thing: About a fourth of the company’s annual income is derived from — guess who? The U.S. government.
Yes, the very government that Wasson’s company no longer wants to help support. The unpatriotic outfit drew nearly $17 billion of its revenue last year from Medicare and Medicaid payments provided by Uncle Sam.
If Walgreen doesn’t want to support public programs like these, the programs shouldn’t support Walgreen.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown www.OtherWords.org.