Jeff Bezos' Miami Move Highlights Tax Challenges for Wealthy

Bezos' Recent Move Sparks Significant Financial Discussions

by Zain ul Abedin
Jeff Bezos' Miami Move Highlights Tax Challenges for Wealthy
© Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

In a move that underscores the challenges of taxing the ultra-wealthy, Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, has shifted his base to Miami, Florida, a decision with profound tax implications. This relocation, announced last November, sees Bezos and his fiancée, Lauren Sánchez, leaving Washington state after nearly three decades for the exclusive Indian Creek Village in Miami, a locality known as the "billionaire bunker." The couple's acquisition of properties in this affluent area amounted to $147 million.

Bezos cited various reasons for this move, including proximity to his family and Blue Origin's operations in Cape Canaveral, and a fondness for Miami. Notably absent in his rationale was any mention of Florida's tax benefits, which undoubtedly played a part in his decision.

This shift comes at a time when Bezos has embarked on a significant financial maneuver. Earlier in the month, he announced plans to sell about 50 million Amazon shares, estimated at around $8.5 billion. Following this, he liquidated over 12 million shares for more than $2 billion, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

This marks a resumption of his routine of selling Amazon stock annually from 1998 to 2021, a practice he had paused in 2022 coinciding with Washington state’s implementation of a 7% capital gains tax on earnings exceeding $250,000.

Florida, conversely, imposes no capital gains tax.

Tax Savings in Florida

The financial benefit of Bezos' relocation is substantial. By moving to Florida, he is poised to save over $610 million in state taxes this year as he continues his stock sales, a figure reported by CNBC.

This substantial tax saving is illustrative of the tax benefits for individuals with wealth like Bezos' For example, his recent sales alone enabled him to avoid about $140 million in taxes. Bezos is not alone in leveraging state tax codes to his advantage.

Florida and Texas have seen an influx of high earners, attracted by their tax-friendly policies. In recent years, billionaires like Ken Griffin, Carl Icahn, Daniel Och, and Josh Harris have also chosen Florida for its tax advantages.

While some, like Griffin, downplay tax motivations for their moves, others reportedly relocated for tax purposes. Despite the migration of some billionaires, Washington state remains home to several, including Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and MacKenzie Scott, Bezos' ex-wife.

This scenario reaffirms a longstanding reality for the ultra-wealthy: tax avoidance strategies may vary, but the certainties of taxes and death remain ever-present.

Jeff Bezos