Jeff Bezos Plans Miami Move for Family, Work…and It Might Help Tax-Wise, Too

From a Wall Street Journal story by Thomas Gryta and Laura Saunders headlined “Jeff Bezos Plans Miami Move for Family, Work…and It Might Help Tax-Wise, Too”:

Jeff Bezos says he is moving from Seattle to Miami, where he’ll be near his parents, closer to some operations of his space company—and where he also could end up paying less in taxes.

The founder and former CEO posted his plans on Instagram Thursday. “I want to be close to my parents, and Lauren and I love Miami,” he wrote, referring to his partner, Lauren Sanchez. He said his parents recently moved back to Miami, where he graduated from high school in 1982.

Bezos joins a growing gaggle of billionaires moving to the Sunshine State, which doesn’t have a state income tax. Washington state, home to Amazon, has moved to increase taxes on wealthy individuals.

Bezos didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about taxes. The move to Florida does appear favorable for him if he sells Amazon stock, which he has done in the past. Bezos owns a 9.7% stake in Amazon currently valued at about $136.7 billion, according to FactSet.

The 59-year-old father of four praised his time in Seattle and said it was an emotional decision to leave. He also pointed to his space flight company, Blue Origin, increasingly shifting its operations to Cape Canaveral on the east coast of Florida. That company, based outside of Seattle, is planning on launching its first orbital mission next year.

Bezos, who has purchased property in Miami this year, also has bought homes over the years in locations including the Los Angeles area, West Texas, New York and Washington, D.C.—and he spends time on his $500 million superyacht. He famously started Amazon out of his garage in the Seattle area and kept the company based there. Through its growth, the company contributed to the region that is home to some of the 21st century’s most notable corporate names including Microsoft, Starbucks and T-Mobile US.

In recent years Amazon has paid Bezos a salary of $81,840, plus other compensation for security costs. Company filings note that due to his substantial Amazon holdings, he has requested no stock-based compensation from Amazon.

Bezos could lighten his state tax burden by moving to Florida. Washington state’s constitution has long been understood to bar an income tax, but in 2021 legislators added a 7% excise tax on net long-term capital gains above an exemption of $250,000.

The law took effect in 2022, and the state supreme court upheld it earlier this year. Capital gains are profits from the sale of investments like Bezos’ holdings in Amazon and elsewhere.

In addition, some Washington legislators want to impose a wealth tax on the richest residents. Initial proposals focused on billionaires, such that five billionaires in the state would have owed nearly all the projected revenue, said Jared Walczak, a state-tax specialist with the Tax Foundation.

Subsequent proposals have broadened the base, but even then the loss of Bezos could take a large bite out of the revenue. Nothing has yet been enacted.

“This illustrates the challenge with state wealth taxes, because the wealthiest are highly mobile and could easily avoid it,” said Walczak. The move could also shield Bezos’ heirs from Washington’s state estate tax. Its top rate of 20% is the highest in the nation, he added.

In moving to Miami, Bezos is landing in an increasingly popular spot for the ultrawealthy and famous, including soccer superstar Lionel Messi.

Citadel’s Ken Griffin set the record for a Miami-Dade County property last year, when he paid $106.875 million in the wake of relocating the company to Miami from its longtime home in Chicago. Investor Carl Icahn moved his firm from New York to the Miami area before the pandemic. Former President Donald Trump changed his primary residence from Manhattan to Palm Beach, Fla., in 2019.

Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, stepped down as CEO of Amazon in 2021. He remains executive chairman of the company.

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