Walgreens has caved to public pressure and announced that they will not move their base overseas to avoid paying US taxes. However, we need to do a heck of a lot more to stop other businesses from moving offshore. The company was considering a move called an “inversion” to acquire a Switzerland-based company called Alliance Boots, and relocate their headquarters to the lower-tax nation. Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson said that the company was “mindful of the public reaction to a potential inversion.” In other words, they recognized that the American people were pretty ticked about Walgreens wanting to dodge taxes.
Public pressure was enough to keep this drug store chain headquartered in Chicago, but it won’t always be enough to stop US corporations from skipping out on their fair share. Congress could change the rules and take away the tax incentives that allow corporations to relocate overseas. However, we all know that it’s highly unlikely that lawmakers will suddenly stop the partisan gridlock and get that done.
In order to get around the obstruction, a group of Democratic senators is calling on President Obama to put a stop to these so-called “inversion” with an executive order. Senators Dick Durbin, Jack Reed, Elizabeth Warren, and others wrote a letter to the president warning that billions of dollars in corporate tax revenue will be lost if these inversions aren’t stopped. They wrote, “The coming flood of corporate inversions justifies immediate executive action.”
The President can direct the Treasury to issue rules that would make it more difficult for corporations to dodge taxes by moving overseas. In a speech last month, President Obama said, “You shouldn’t get to call yourself an American company only when you want a handout from American taxpayers.” Whether it’s through executive action, public pressure, or a combination of both, we must force corporations to pay their fair share. Walgreens is staying here, and it’s time for more businesses to prove their economic patriotism.