This 4th of July, U.S. Corporations Display Little Patriotism

July 2, 2024

As Big Companies Keep Paying Relatively Less In Taxes to Support Our Nation, 100 Largest American Firms Reported Over $1 Trillion Profits Last Year While Shedding 55,000 Jobs

As American families are firing up their grills and filling their coolers for Independence Day celebrations this Thursday, American corporations are displaying little patriotism for the nation that made their success possible.  According to the latest data from Fortune as analyzed by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), the 100 largest American corporations in 2023 ran up huge after-tax profits—over $1 trillion last year—in part through price gouging of American consumers

Even as these 100 richest corporations saw their profits soar by 20%—and their market value increased by 31%—in 2023, they slashed a total of 55,000 jobs while raising their average median wage by a meager 6.5% (barely staying ahead of last year’s 4.1% inflation rate). This all comes against a backdrop of corporations paying lower and lower tax rates and less and less in taxes when measured as a share of the economy, even as they further enrich their wealthy stock owners with ever bigger shareholder payouts

“This 4th of July, Corporate America is celebrating its profits, not its country,” said David Kass, ATF’s executive director. “Rather than showing gratitude for the great nation that turned them into economic powerhouses, U.S. corporations are racking up ever higher profits on the backs of American workers and consumers, turning the bulk of those profits over to their rich and in many cases foreign shareholders, all while failing to pay their fair share of U.S. taxes. This Independence Day, let’s declare independence from corporate domination of American society by pledging to raise taxes on the nation’s biggest firms and their wealthy shareholders.”

Following are some U.S. corporations demonstrating the least patriotism this 4th of July by looking out exclusively for their wealthy owners instead of American workers and consumers:.

Walmart tops the list of largest American corporations for the 12th year in a row: its 2023 revenue of $648 billion is greater than the entire economic output (GDP) of Belgium. The retail giant’s profits jumped by a third over last year’s earnings, to more than $15 billion. But instead of using those profits to substantially hike worker wages or lower customer prices, it used about $9 billion to further enrich the company’s already wealthy shareholders through dividends and stock buybacks. Nearly half of those shareholder payouts benefit just three people: the adult children of the Walmart founder, who together control 46% of Walmart stock, worth roughly $250 billion. 

Meanwhile, the company added no new jobs and the average existing Walmart worker lost ground financially, as the company’s median wage rose just 1.9% against an inflation rate of over 3%.  Walmart customers stocking up for 4th of July picnics will fare no better, as the retailer has hiked prices on its house brands by as much as 100%, drawing criticism from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and TikTok shoppers

The pharmacy and insurance company CVS Health—the 6th largest corporation, with revenue only slightly less than the GDP of Egypt–more than doubled its profits in 2023 compared to 2022, earnings soaring from $4.1 billion to $8.3 billion. Despite  that massive windfall, CVS hired zero additional employees and actually cut its median annual wage by almost $900. It was wealthy investors who reaped the reward, with CVS buying back $2 billion worth of its own stock—helping boost its market value by over 9%—and paying out over $3 billion of dividends.

Profits for healthcare behemoth McKesson more than tripled in 2023, rising to $3.6 billion from $1.1 billion in 2022. Shedding 12,000 employees—about 30% of the company’s  workforce—undoubtedly helped increase those profit margins. They could have kept those workers on payroll but that would have meant forgoing the $3.6 billion McKesson spent instead on stock buybacks last year to juice the company’s share price for its wealthy owners.