Digging Deeper: Why Walgreens is Staying in the U.S.

Published 08/09 2014 09:40PM

Updated 08/09 2014 09:44PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was a key player in getting Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens to keep its headquarters on U.S. soil.


But we're learning many others also played big roles in getting the chain to stay.


 Fox 43's Washington Bureau reporter Elizabeth Beeson gives us an inside look at how the drug-store chain changed its tune.


Lately, at the corner of happy and healthy, there's been more scrutiny, than smiles.


Walgreens was the next big U.S. company in line to cut its tax bill by relocating its headquarters, until this week.


Joshua Smith a senior policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute says, "They are getting a tremendous amount of flack from politicians, especially Senator Dick Durbin."


Senator Durbin adds,  "a company that has been profitable and has made billions of dollars in America, now, wants to lessen its American tax bill by moving overseas."


It's a process known as corporate inversion.

If completed, Walgreens would have dodged close to $4 billion in taxes over the next five years.


Durbin says he knew he had to try and stop it. 


 Michael Pryce-Jones, the Director of Corporate Government with the CTW Investment group says, “I don't think you can ever discount the influence of a politician when he personally writes to the company."


But Walgreens' decision wasn't all because of political pressure..


“We have seen some anecdotal evidence of people writing on common sections of news stories and blogs, that they wouldn't shop at Walgreens. They'd switch to CVS or what not,” adds Smith.


About 200,000 shoppers objected…to be exact.


Pryce-Jones adds, "Consumers have shown they're a powerful force when corporations are pursuing these kinds of activities."


The result… $4 billon dollars will stay in Uncle Sam's pocket.

“People tend to forget that tax dollars actually do pay for things, that all public services come from tax dollars,” adds Smith.


Those funds, economist Smith says, could employ workers directly or through federal contracts nationwide including in Illinois. “What does this mean for customers and workers? Actually not very much."


Walgreens had discussed moving overseas as part of its costly merger with European pharmacy giant Alliance Boots.  It is going ahead with that deal, even though it is not moving overseas.  But now that Walgreens won't save tax money, there are concerns it could affect jobs.


“If this deal doesn't pay off, the company could be forced onto further cost-cutting,” adds Pryce-Jones.


Walgreens currently employs about 20,000 people in Illinois.


About 50 U.S. companies have inverted overseas since the early 1980s, with a significant increase in the last decade.  

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