- Jeff Bezos announced his move to Miami last year.
- Since his decampment, he’s started unloading billions worth of Amazon stock.
- Thanks to his new address, he’s avoiding paying hundreds of millions in taxes.
In a tale as old as our convoluted tax code: Rich people will do anything, including move across the country, to avoid paying taxes.
Jeff Bezos announced in November that he was leaving Washington state, his home for 29 years, and moving to Florida with his fiancée Lauren Sanchez. The pair scooped up two properties for $179 million in the exclusive Indian Creek Village, an island off of Miami known as the “billionaire bunker.”
He cited a slew of reasons for the move: He wanted to be closer to his parents and Blue Origin’s Cape Canaveral operations, plus he and Sanchez love Miami. What he didn’t mention was Florida’s favorable tax code.
It looks like it probably factored in, though.
Earlier this month, Bezos announced plans to unload 50 million Amazon shares, worth about $8.5 billion, over the next year. Last week, he sold 12 million shares worth more than $2 billion, per SEC filings.
It’s a return to form for Bezos. Each year from 1998 to 2021, Bezos sold Amazon shares to fund his personal and philanthropic activities. But he stopped in 2022 — the same year Washington state imposed a 7% capital gains tax on gains of over $250,000 for those domiciled there. Florida, in contrast, has a capital gains tax rate of zero. In fact, it is one of the eight states that does not have a capital gains tax.
For someone selling securities worth billions, like Bezos, the difference amounts to a lot of money. Thanks to his new Florida address, he could save more than $610 million in state taxes over the course of the year as he continues to sell shares, CNBC first reported. For last week’s sales, alone, he avoided paying $147 million.
Bezos is far from the only ultrawealthy individual to circumvent paying a very small fraction of their wealth to the government — $610 million is just 0.3% of his net worth of $197 billion — thanks to Florida’s favorable tax code.
Florida and Texas gained the most number of high earners between 2020 and 2021, according to a July study that analyzed tax filing data. Billionaires Ken Griffin, Carl Icahn, Daniel Och, and Josh Harris have moved to Florida over the past five years.
Though some, like Griffin — who has spent millions of dollars fighting tax increases for the wealthy — have said lower taxes did not factor into their moves, it’s been reported that others, like Icahn and Och, did head to the Sunshine State for tax reasons.
While some may say that Bezos is teaching the Evergreen State a lesson, it’s still home to about a dozen billionaires, including Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Bezos’ ex-wife MacKenzie Scott. And for those members of the superrich set, the age-old adage remains true: Nothing is certain but death and taxes.