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Protesters Slam Walgreens For Considering Swiss Tax Shelter

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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(CBS) – Walgreens is considering moving its corporate headquarters — on paper — to Switzerland.

It’s a strategic move that would save millions in taxes, but as CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, it’s making some customers angry.

Chants and signs underscored the message a coalition of community and labor groups delivered Thursday.

“We’re angry because Walgreens is trying to shortchange America,” protester Eugene Lim said.

The company’s physical headquarters is in Deerfield would stay, along with all the jobs. There would be no changes at the stores. What would change is Walgreens’ bottom line.

Lim estimates the drug store chain would avoid paying $4 billion in taxes over five years.

Walgreens recently merged with a foreign company, which allows it to take advantage of a tax loophole and move — on paper. Calling the move unfair, protesters presented the manager of the store on Michigan Avenue with boxes of petitions that reportedly total 70,000 signatures.

Signatures from people like retired teacher Minnie Cobb.

“If it’s moving out of country to avoid paying taxes, that means that we’re paying more,” Cobb says.

Walgreens employees had no comment, but corporate issued this statement: “We will do what is in the best long-term interests of our customers, employees and shareholders.”

The company is expected to announce more details later this summer.