The retail giant’s critics say contrived financial arrangements are at the heart of its success

When Jeff Bezos was looking for a home for his fledgling online bookseller,, in 1994, his first choice is said to have been a Native American reservation. The location would have presented generous tax breaks if the state of California had not intervened and halted the plan.

Next stop was Seattle, selected because of Washington state’s small population. At the time only those retailers with a physical presence in a state paid sales taxes, so a home state with a small population meant the lowest possible sales tax burden. Sales made into other more populous states would not be taxed.

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