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Just how greedy are the Walmart heirs of the Walton family? Despite having a combined $140 billion in wealth, as much as 42 percent of the American population, and a reputation as philanthropists, the living Walmart heirs have barely contributed anything to their family's namesake foundation. According to a new report from Making Change at Walmart, neither Rob Walton nor Alice Walton has contributed a single dollar to the Walton Family Foundation, Jim Walton gave $3 million in 1998, and sister-in-law Christy has given $52 million. (Maybe because she wasn't raised with Walton family values?) To put it in context:
The combined lifetime contributions of the second generation Walmart heirs and their family holding company to the Walton Family Foundation come to $58.49 million, or:
  • About .04% of the Waltons’ net worth of $139.9 billion;
  • About .34% of the estimated $17.1 Billion in Walmart dividends that Rob, Jim, Alice and Christy received during the years we analyzed;
  • Less than one week’s worth of the Walmart dividends the Waltons will receive this year;
  • Less than the estimated value of Rob Walton’s collection of vintage sports cars.
Among prominent American billionaires, the Waltons stand out for their greed:
Pie charts showing that while the Walmart heirs of the Walton family have given 0.04% of their net worth to their family's foundation, Bill Gates has given 36.2% of his net worth to his foundation and Warren Buffett has given 26.9% of his net worth to charity.
So where does the Walton Family Foundation get its nearly $2 billion in assets, given the greed of the family it's named for? From a series of trusts that help them avoid taxes as they pass their billions from generation to generation. More than 99 percent of contributions to the foundation since 2008 have come from 21 Charitable Lead Annuity Trusts:
During the life of these trusts a portion of the income they earn (dividends and capital gains, primarily) must go to the Walton Family Foundation. When the trusts expire, however, their underlying assets, along with any income earned above the amount required to go to the Foundation, will revert to the trusts’ non-charitable beneficiaries, presumably second or third generation Walmart heirs. The non-charitable beneficiaries of the trusts will likely receive these trust assets entirely free of estate taxes—a tax savings that Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) estimates will come to about $3 billion.
Meanwhile, the living Waltons get to direct the foundation's money to things like Alice's Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and to reshaping American education in the image of Walmart. It's a pretty sweet deal for them; not so much for the rest of us.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 09:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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