Walmart’s low wages affect American taxpayers too

Two weeks ago, Marketplace reported that Walmart is the biggest beneficiary of SNAP, the taxpayer-funded food stamp program. Not only does it rake in the largest share of food stamps of any retailer, but because of the notoriously meager wages it pays store associates, the company is believed to have the most employees who qualify for food stamps.

Yet, as a new report explains, SNAP is not the only means by which Walmart reaps the benefits of federal tax dollars. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, Walmart and the Walton family, which owns over 50 percent of Walmart, together receive tax breaks and tax subsidies estimated at $7.8 billion per year:

Estimated Annual Subsidies and Tax Breaks to Walmart and the Walton Family

[Source: Americans for Tax Fairness]

Most of the benefit that Americans for Tax Fairness identifies comes from taxpayer funding of public assistance programs that low-paid Walmart associates rely on to fill the gap between what Walmart pays them and a family-supporting living wage. Walmart’s choice to pay low wages, then, affects not only Walmart associates, but all American taxpayers. If Walmart decided to pay all associates a living wage, which it could do with only negligible changes to prices, it would be a good business decision and would also free up tax dollars to fund public services and reduce the deficit.

What do you think?