Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Walgreens Considers Moving Headquarters to Switzerland

Sen. Dick Durbin proposes bill that would shut off federal contracts to companies leaving the U.S.




    9/28/2014; Walgreens may buy Swiss drug store chain Alliance Boots to avoid the 35 percent corporate tax rate in the U.S. but U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has other ideas. NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Tuesday, July 29, 2014)

    Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is hoping to convince Deerfield-based Walgreens not to move to Switzerland.

    The company is considering the international move, estimating it could save $4 billion over the next five years. The company is also expected to purchase Swiss-based drug store company Alliance Boots.

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    But Durbin is hoping to make the company reconsider by shutting off federal contracts to companies leaving the U.S.

    "More and more corporations are being encouraged by their Wall Street investors to leave the country to avoid paying American taxes, now when these companies leave, they push the burden back on other companies and American taxpayers," Durbin said.

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    Durbin's opponent in the upcoming election, Republican candidate Jim Oberweis, calls Durbin's proposal a "poor excuse for tax reform and not a serious attempt to fix our country’s anemic economy.”

    Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner blames the state's business climate for Walgreens' flirtation with Switzerland.

    "America needs to compete, Illinois needs to compete. The right answer is not to create walls, to block companies and people," Rauner said. "That's terrible. We should be about freedom, choice and competition."

    But Gov. Pat Quinn supports Durbin's bill.

    "That's not right. We can't have corporate deserters," Quinn said.

    A Walgreens spokesman said "we will do what is in the best long term interests of our customers, employees and shareholders. We expect to announce details ... in the coming weeks.”

    Eight other American companies have pulled out of the United States this year blaming a high corporate tax rate.