Community groups from around the country have joined together in a complaint filed Monday with the Internal Revenue Service and against Walmart Foundation, alleging that the foundation violated its tax-exempt status by using grants to generate support for store expansions.
Donations from the Walmart Foundation “skyrocketed” in certain cities where there was controversy about a Walmart expansion, the complaint alleges. A spokesman for the Walmart Foundation could not immediately be reached for comment.
Among the cities named in the IRS complaint are Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
In Boston, the complaint alleges, Walmart (NYSE: WMT) sought to open stores in the area in 2011. Walmart announced plans for a Somerville store that year and, the next year, the retailer leased space in Watertown, according to the complaint. However, later in 2012, Walmart abandoned plans for Somerville and Watertown after the communities made their opposition clear, the complaint alleges.
Meanwhile, donations from Walmart Foundation to nonprofit organizations increased slightly in 2011, increased more in 2012 and then trickled off when Walmart opted against Watertown and Somerville locations, the complaint alleges.
The complaint includes a chart showing what it alleges are Walmart Foundation’s donations to Boston area organizations each year between 2008 and 2013. Donations hit their lowest point in 2009 when the Walmart Foundation gave $125,000 to Boston-area organizations, and they hit their highest point in 2012, when Walmart Foundation donated $1.14 million.