We did it! Walgreens Will Remain in U.S.
“Inversion” was the topic du jour of the business world this summer: a tax avoidance scheme that allows U.S. corporations to migrate to a foreign land on paper, while retaining virtually every aspect of their operation at home. The move could have saved Walgreens billions at the expense of American taxpayers, but this week the company chose not to do an inversion after a chorus of opposition from consumers and politicians across the nation.
Rallies were held, petitions were signed, and the American people let Walgreens know that renouncing their U.S. citizenship wouldn’t fly. Politicians and government officials got in on the action, too.
After former Obama official Stephen Shay outlined how the President could take action to halt inversions (Change to Win brought the Walgreens deal to Shay’s attention), the Treasury announced they’re investigating ways to stop inversion deals without our perpetually gridlocked Congress.
Walgreens’ announcement yesterday put to bed six months of speculation. So, the question is, why did they wait so long?
Let’s not forget the impact a Walgreens inversion could have had on the American people: $4 billion lost over the first five years alone. A deep cut that would have been made worse by the fact that Walgreens derives nearly a quarter of their revenue from taxpayer-funded programs.
It’s no wonder that in a time of questionable economic patriotism, ordinary citizens rose up against the possibility of an iconic American brand not paying their fair share in taxes.
Successfully pushing Walgreens to remain in Illinois is a huge victory, and shows the power of grassroots pressure, but we shouldn’t have to flex our collective muscle. The company’s leadership should have balked at the idea six months ago, but instead they appear to have seriously considered renouncing their American citizenship.
We’ll continue to examine the pending Alliance Boots deal, and the impact it could have on customers, employees and other stakeholders in the coming months. But for now, let’s commend those who demanded corporate patriotism in a time when it’s sorely needed.