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Skinner: Walgreens made 'whipping boy' over tax inversions

Walgreens store in Boston
AP file photo

The executive chairman of Walgreens Boots Alliance said the Deerfield-based drugstore chain was made a “whipping boy” by the Obama administration and elected officials opposed to corporate tax inversions.

James Skinner, executive chairman of Walgreens Boots Alliance

“The Obama administration and (Treasury Secretary Jack Lew) were taking the opportunity to select any company that was even thinking about inverting and using them as a ‘whipping boy’ relative to the issue to sort of further their agenda,” James Skinner said according to a USA Today report about the merged company’s first shareholders meeting. “They took the license to, and everyone who wanted to make hay of the situation regarding their agenda politically started taking public relations shots, talking about the inversion.”

In July, Obama denounced tax inversions as “unpatriotic” and akin to companies renouncing their citizenship to avoid paying their fair share.

Walgreens could have saved hundreds of millions of dollars in income taxes when it combined with the company then known as Alliance Boots and moved the merged company’s legal headquarters to Europe.

Walgreens was called on by elected officials, including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to remain a U.S.-based company, and the Obama administration signed off on penalties for companies that moved their legal headquarters aboard.

The merged company is based in Deerfield and has vowed to remain a U.S. company.