A collection of labor and community groups filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service accusing Wal-Mart Stores' charitable foundation of violating its tax exempt status urban areas.
In the complaint, dated Monday and addressed to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, the group claims the Walmart Foundation made donations to ease public opposition as it sought to expand in key markets like Los Angeles and New York.
Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Gardner said the company takes IRS regulations "very seriously" and the complaint lacked merit.
The group claimed donations spiked around efforts to open stores in a community. For example, it said donations in Los Angeles jumped to $1.4 million in 2011 as plans for a new store in Chinatown gathered steam before dropping off to $230,000 in 2013, the year it opened, the complaint said.
The complaint alleges the foundation violated IRS regulations by acting in the interests of a private company and not solely for charitable aims.