The average wage for a full-time Walmart employee is $12.83 per hour. That adds up to about $27,000 per year.
The average yearly bonus for the top eight Walmart executives between 2009 and 2014 was $7.5 million. That doesn’t include their regular salary.
How is it possible that there is such discrepancy between the income of employees and the income of corporate executives? Well, amongst many other dishonorable factors, it’s largely thanks to a dangerous loophole in the tax system that Walmart has been exploiting for years.
Considering Walmart’s unethical habit of refusing to guarantee a 40-hour workweek and its dedication to low wages, it’s unsurprising that Walmart employees have to rely heavily on $6.2 billion in food stamps and other benefits just to get by. The company made $17 billion in 2012, but can’t manage to pay its employees enough to remain above the poverty line.
Despite the company’s shares falling 2.2 percent in February of this year, the top eight executives still received “performance payouts.” This is where Walmart dodging over $100 million in U.S. taxes comes into play: if the top executives earn performance payouts, it allows the corporation to deduct unlimited amounts from its federal income taxes. In other words, the more the top employees make, the less in taxes the company has to pay. And it’s the taxpayers who end up paying the difference.
ThinkProgress reported that the $104 million taxpayer subsidy Walmart received could have paid for 33,000 free school lunches over six years. Instead, that money was spread across the top executives who already roll in millions of dollars a year. The former President and CEO of Walmart, Michael Duke, earned $116 million between 2009 and 2014 in “performance-based pay,” which saved the company $40 million in taxes alone.
It’s important to keep in mind that not only is Walmart hurting its employees, its customers, and taxpayers, but Walmart’s taking the profit it makes and using it to donate to conservative causes that often continue to exploit the disadvantages faced by low-income workers.
Monster corporations such as Walmart need to evaluate the damage they can create when they put the needs of overpaid executives before the needs of everyone else.
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