If you know the company Walmart, then you should have no confusion in whom the Walton family is. Worth an approximately $140 billion between all family members, the Walton’s are America’s wealthiest family owning 50% of the world’s largest retailer. Sam Walton, the founder of the iconic brand, built a multi-billion dollar company but it seems that the Walton family is not very interested in giving back.
Oh sure Sam and his wife Helen created the Walton Family Foundation. Established in 1988, it is currently valued at around $2 billion dollars in assets. Just in 2013 alone the Foundation invested $365 million into education reform, the environment and the Walton’s home region of Northern Arkansas. The Foundation has also given quite generously to Alice Walton’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, to the apparent some of $1.2 billion in total.
Of course giving back to themselves seems to be what the Walton’s are best at doing. Despite the billions of dollars that the Walton Foundation has donated, almost none of these funds have come from the Walton’s own pockets. According to a report released by union-backed Making Change at Walmart, Rob and Alice Walton did not make a single contribution from their own funds over the 23 year period the study examined. Jim Walton made a $3 million contribution…over 15 years ago. All in all the Walton family has only contributed .13% ($6.4 million) to the total figure of the Walton Foundation.
Most of the money donated to the Walton Foundation is due to tax-avoiding trusts, established by Sam, Helen and Jim Walton or their estates. A direct excerpt from the report stated “The Waltons are exploiting complex loopholes in the tax code in order to avoid billions of dollars in estate taxes by funding their Foundation with special trusts.” This isn’t anything new though. The ultra wealthy have been using loopholes to avoid parting with their money for years.
Not all billionaires act as greedy and withholding as the Walton family though. It is estimated that Bill Gates has given 36% of his personal wealth to charity, while investment tycoon Warren Buffett has donated an approximate 26.9% of his wealth as well. We applaud these men for giving back so generously even though they don’t have to. Their actions make the Walton family look even worse than they did on their own merit. The Walton’s have proven that they do not care about anyone else except themselves. America is a free country and their entitled to do with their money as they please, but it truly is disgusting that they feel that they do not have enough to give back.
You can read the full report here.
Photo: Walmart Stores’ Flickr. Alice and Jim Walton at the 2011 Walmart annual meeting.