Exploring the Role Delaware Plays as a Domestic Tax Haven


We examine whether Delaware serves as a domestic tax haven. We find that taxes play an important role in determining whether U.S. firms locate subsidiaries in Delaware and that these tax factors are economically important when compared to the legal and governance factors considered in prior research. In addition, we find that U.S. firms most likely to implement a Delaware–based state tax avoidance strategy have state effective tax rates that range between 0.7 and 1.1 percentage points lower than other firms on average. The tax savings represent a 15 –24% decrease in the state tax burden, and translate to an increase in net income of between 1.04% and 1.47%. We also find that the tax benefits of using Delaware tax strategies are diminishing over time and we provide evidence this decline is partially attributable to efforts by states to limit the multi-state tax avoidance of U.S. firms.