Walton Family Rips Off the Rest of Us, Again

The Wal-Mart heirs, who make up the world’s richest family by far, are expected to collectively dodge as much as $180.6 million in federal income taxes, thanks to aggressive pursuit of tax benefits set to expire Dec. 31, 2012.

In a move that received little attention due to the Black Friday Strike coverage, the Wal-Mart board announced Nov. 19 that it will rush payment of its quarterly dividend, giving shareholders their bonuses on Dec. 27, instead of Jan. 2 as previously scheduled, reports the New York Times.

The date change means the Walton family (who together own 48% of Wal-Mart) and other shareholders will claim those earnings at the current dividends tax rate of 15%.

The Walton family’s 2012 take of the pie is estimated at a combined $636 million. After taxes, the Walton family should net $540.6 million from the Dec. 27 payment, saving the family $180.6 million over paying the taxes next year as scheduled (based on figures tax attorney Kenneth K. Bezozo supplied to the New York Times).

If Obama gets his way and the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich expire by Dec. 31, the income/dividends tax rate for wealthy individuals will reset to the pre-Bush-era level of 39.6%. In addition, the health reform bill is partially supported by an additional 3.8% tax on investment income, nudging the total potential tax rate for the wealthy to 43.4%, which is 28.4% higher than the current dividends rate.

The three Walton family members who sit on Wal-Mart’s board recused themselves from the vote, which doesn’t seem to deflect much suspicion about who’s backing the tax avoidance action. Each of the Walton family board members will make tens of millions off the early dividend payment.

Keep in mind that these people do not need a tax break. Instead, they should readjust their notions of what’s fair considering American consumers, workers, land grants, and infrastructure made them rich. The Walton family, who pay most of their workers minimum wage with sparse benefits, have a combined wealth of $102.7 billion, which is 49% GREATER than the wealth of the #1 richest person in the world (Carlos Slim, worth $69 billion according to Forbes).

Of course, Wal-Mart isn’t the only company calculating an advantage from this one-time tax break; more than 100 public companies are expected to do so — among them is Wynn Resorts. You may remember pre-election coverage of CEO Steve Wynn, who sent his employees a 67-page “voter guide” urging them to vote for pre-selected conservative Republican candidates. Wynn, who owns 10% of Wynn Resorts, also is leading his board in releasing an early dividend payment. Wynn should net an after-tax sum of $64 million from the $750 million total dividend, saving an estimated $21.3 million in federal taxes, compared with receiving the dividend in Jan. 2013.

Papa John Walks Back His Obamacare Criticism

It appears Papa John’s has a new item on the menu: heaping plate of crow. CEO and founder John Schnatter now went on the record on the Huffington Post to defend himself by taking back his position presented earlier to his stockholders where he said:

“We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry. But our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare.”

Now, Mr Schnatter is singing another tune, saying:

“Papa John’s, like most businesses, is still researching what the Affordable Care Act means to our operations. Regardless of the conclusion of our analysis, we will honor this law, as we do all laws, and continue to offer 100% of Papa John’s corporate employees and workers in company-owned stores health insurance as we have since the company was founded in 1984.”

The Papa Johns’ CEO seems to love claiming to speak for an entire industry, “most businesses” is a popular statement for him. It also appears that Mr. Schnatter has finally remembered the laws of business and capitalism, making this other point in his commentary:

“And this way I get to provide health insurance and I’m not at a competitive disadvantage … our competitors are going to have to do the same thing.”

Welcome to macroeconomics 101 – the only way to make a fair capitalist system is to provide a level playing field. So long as companies are not required to give health care, there will be unethical ones which won’t. Companies dedicated to shareholder return, which is what a corporation is for in the end, will maximize their return by cutting every bit they can, be that wages, benefits, etc. By every company being required to carry health insurance, it keeps a level playing field while enabling their employees to be healthy. As it is now, they are forced to work while sick, and nothing goes with a pepperoni pizza like a case of the flu.

This is the same logic behind the minimum wage as well. Without a lower cap of wages, the pressure to maximize shareholder return will force wages down, resulting in a lower standard of living, and restricting consumerism. Without customers, all businesses suffer. While Obamacare is not the ideal solution, being far less efficient than a single payer system, it does level the playing field, making a solid foundation to improve productivity, maximizing shareholder profits.

The separation of church and state is not applicable in Kentucky. And not realizing that can cost you a year in prison.

In Kentucky, a homeland security law requires the state’s citizens to acknowledge the security provided by the Almighty God–or risk 12 months in prison.

The law states, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln’s historic March 30, 1863, presidential proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy’s November 22, 1963, national security speech which concluded: “For as was written long ago: ‘Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.'”

The law requires that plaques celebrating the power of the Almighty God be installed outside the state Homeland Security building–and carries a criminal penalty of up to 12 months in jail if one fails to comply. The plaque’s inscription begins with the assertion, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”

Tom Riner, a Baptist minister and the long-time Democratic state representative, sponsored the law.

“The church-state divide is not a line I see,” Riner told The New York Times shortly after the law was first challenged in court. “What I do see is an attempt to separate America from its history of perceiving itself as a nation under God.”

“The church-state divide is not a line I see.” So due to this idiot’s inability to recognize Constitutional truths state government workers are threatened with incarceration for not promoting HIS religious point of view?

Interesting how “freedom” is ONLY applicable to those that think, worship, and love in the “correct” manner as determined by these superstitious small minded asshoels.

Fortunately there are some willing to challenge this in court.

Last week, American Atheists submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the law.

Of course, as we well know, this will be seen as an attack on Christianity rather than an attempt to protect the rights of the citizens of Kentucky NOT to have religious views of others crammed down their throats on government property.