Walgreen Drops “Inversion” Plan to Avoid US Taxes

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Walgreens pharmacy at Times Square, New York

The Walgreens store in New York's Times Square. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Walgreen company has announced it will not relocate its corporate headquarters overseas to avoid paying US taxes, following a campaign pressuring the drugstore chain to remain in America.

The tax maneuver, known as “inversion,” is currently being considered by dozens of American corporations and two large US pharmaceutical companies, AbbVie and Mylan, agreed to such deals last month.

This week, the Obama administration announced it was considering plans to circumvent Congress and act alone to crack down on the practice.

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Economic analyst Robert Reich wrote last month that Walgreen considered moving abroad as part of its merger with Alliance Boots, the European drugstore chain. “The tax dodge likewise means more money for Walgreen’s investors and top executives. Which is why its large investors — including Goldman Sachs — have been pushing for it,” Reich wrote.

He called the complaint by CEOs that they are suffering larger corporate tax burdens than their competitors overseas “rubbish.”

Had Walgreen moved abroad, it would have cost American taxpayers about $4 billion over five years, according to an analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness.

A coalition of groups, including Americans for Tax Fairness, have been pressuring Walgreen to remain domiciled in the US, threatening to boycott the chain. Some 300,000 people signed an online petition urging Walgreen’s CEO Greg Wasson to not “desert America.”

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