‘How about paying your taxes?’ A Walmart exec hit back at Jeff Bezos after he called out the company’s low minimum wage

A top Walmart executive has struck out at Amazon for its low tax contributions, after Jeff Bezos called out the retail giant for paying its workers a lower minimum wage than Amazon.

On Thursday, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, Dan Bartlett, tagged Bezos in a tweet which said: “Hey retail competitors out there (you know who you are 😉) how about paying your taxes?”

Bartlett was responding Bezos’ challenge to retailers on Thursday to boost their minimum wage and keep up with Amazon, who made theirs $15 in October 2018.

“Today I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage,” Bezos wrote in a letter to shareholders.

“Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone.”

Dan Bartlett, when he worked as Counselor to the President in the administration of George W. Bush.
AP Charles Dharapak

In 2018 Amazon paid $0 in federal income taxes for the second year in a row, despite recording a profit of $11.2 billion.

Critics say the company exploits legal loopholes to keep this figure low. Amazon says it pays all the tax required of it, and points to other types of tax which cost it billions of dollars per year.

Read more: Amazon warehouse employees speak out about the ‘brutal’ reality of working during the holidays, when 60-hour weeks are mandatory and ambulance calls are common

In a separate tweet on Thursday, Barlett defended Walmart’s wage policy.

“FWIW, the vast majority of our warehouse associates have been making more than $15 for a long time. And they still get quarterly performance bonuses.”

Read more: Jeff Bezos called for Amazon’s competitors to raise their minimum wage. Here’s how retail rivals like Walmart, Target, and Costco stack up on worker pay.

Walmart’s minimum wage officially became $11 an hour in January 2018.

Walmart’s logo is seen outside one of the stores in Chicago.
Reuters

In a recent report on Amazon’s tax affairs, The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) said it uses “tax loopholes that allow profitable companies to routinely avoid paying federal and state income taxes.”

Amazon is able to pay so little tax as the company’s structure was specifically designed to minimise tax impact.

Specifically it maximizes benefits from “tax credits” and “tax breaks on executive stock options,” according to ITEP.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Amazon said:

“Amazon pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the US and every country where we operate, including paying $2.6 billion in corporate tax and reporting $3.4 billion in tax expense over the last three years.”

“Corporate tax is based on profits, not revenues, and our profits remain modest given retail is a highly competitive, low-margin business and our continued heavy investment.”

They also pointed to the large number of jobs the company has created.

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