This brick-and-mortar, nondescript two-story building in Wilmington, Delaware would be awfully crowded if its registered occupants — 285,000 companies — actually resided there. What’s come to be known as the “Delaware loophole” — the unassuming building at 1209 North Orange Street — has become, as the Guardian described, “famous for helping tens of thousands of companies avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in tax.”
Reportedly dozens of Fortune 500 companies — Coca-Cola, Walmart, American Airlines, and Apple, to name a few — use Delaware’s strict corporate secrecy laws and legal tax loopholes by registering the North Orange Street address for official business.
“Big corporations, small-time businesses, rogues, scoundrels, and worse — all have turned up at the Delaware address in hopes of minimizing taxes, skirting regulations, plying friendly courts or, when needed, covering their tracks,” the New York Times’ Leslie Wayne described in 2012. “It’s easy to set up shell companies here, no questions asked.”
While the legitimacy of taxes as a concept may be up to personal interpretation, what matters in Clinton’s use of the so-called Delaware loophole, in particular, is her constant harping on the need for corporations and elite individuals to pay their fair share. In other words, Clinton’s employment of North Orange Street amounts to a telling, Do As I Say, Not As I Do. And, as the Guardian notes, both of “the leading candidates for president – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – have companies registered at 1209 North Orange, and have refused to explain why.”
As Rupert Neate explained for the Guardian, being registered in the tiny state allows “companies to legally shift earnings from other states to Delaware, where they are not taxed on non-physical incomes generated outside of state.”
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