Billionaire Jeff Bezos, a soon-to-be Florida man, sparked a debate over taxes this week without mentioning them. The implications of his Seattle-to-Miami move show why

William of England
By William of England 4 Min Read

Instead the Amazon founder, with an estimated web value of $162 billion, expressed his love for Miami and his want to be close to his mother and father, who just lately moved again there. He additionally famous that the operations of Blue Origin, his area enterprise, are “increasingly shifting to Cape Canaveral,” about 200 miles to the north.

But his publish, inevitably, sparked hypothesis over state taxes and the way a lot they performed into his choice. In March, Washington’s Supreme Court, after years of authorized challenges by Republicans, upheld a 7% tax on capital positive aspects above $250,000. Florida, against this, has no capital positive aspects tax. 

Meanwhile an property tax in Washington applies to estates value greater than $2.19 million (a paltry determine within the Bezos universe) and goes from 10% to twenty%. Florida has no property tax. 

In an opinion piece on Bloomberg, columnist Jonathan Levin argued that the billionaire’s move “seems to be largely personal” and “isn’t a repudiation of tax policy in Washington state, nor is it a sign that Florida has created the policy recipe for others to follow,” conceding that “most of us struggle to believe it can be that simple with billionaires.” 

He additionally admitted that the capital positive aspects tax “stood to have a big impact on Bezos, who has sold down billions in stock over the years.”

And a remark beneath the column requested why there was no point out of Washington’s property tax and Florida’s lack of one, with the poster arguing the Bezos property might keep away from paying $32 billion with the move.

Billionaire tax brouhaha

In the background, in the meantime, is long-running uncertainty over which state Bezos has truly been claiming residency in, coupled with continued efforts in Washington state to go a so-called “billionaire tax.” 

In January 2021, Rep. Noel Frame, a Democrat from Seattle, introduced a invoice to impose a new 1% wealth tax on billionaires. Backers argued that as a result of Washington (like Florida) has no revenue tax and raises income from gross sales tax, property taxes, and different taxes, taxpayers on decrease financial rungs pay a bigger share of their revenue in state taxes.

The invoice didn’t go, as did a comparable one final 12 months. In January, lawmakers introduced one other such measure, becoming a member of state legislatures in California, New York, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Hawaii in comparable efforts.

Shortly after the invoice’s introduction in 2021, Bezos introduced plans to step down as Amazon’s CEO. Critics of the proposed wealth tax pounced, saying Bezos would certainly depart Washington.

But Frame told Geekwire on the time, “I really think that Bezos has to be claiming residency elsewhere, which obviously has nothing to do with this proposal or anything else. It’s just the choice that he made.”

This week, Jared Walczak, vice chairman of state initiatives on the Tax Foundation, a right-leaning assume tank, told MarketWatch: “By moving now, Bezos is getting out in front of any potential Washington state wealth tax—and he also took a large bite out of any revenue projections.”

Walczak mentioned that for now the “real benefit of Florida over Washington for Jeff Bezos is the lack of a tax on capital-gains income.”

He conceded that “people move for a variety of reasons,” however he additionally famous, “When billionaires move for whatever reason, they usually land in low-tax states.”

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