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Jeff Bezos Joins the Florida Billionaire Club, Ditching High Taxes in Seattle for Miami Life

Consumer
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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced he is moving from Seattle to Miami in an emotional Instagram post on Thursday. The billionaire said that while the move is exciting, leaving Seattle is bittersweet.

“Seattle, you will always have a place in my heart,” Bezos wrote.

Bezos established Amazon in Seattle back in 1994, starting out in his garage in the suburb of Bellevue. Over the decades, Amazon transformed Seattle into a major tech hub and is the city’s largest private employer. Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO last year to become executive chairman, with Andy Jassy succeeding him in the top role.

The billionaire recently purchased two luxury homes in Miami for $79 million and $68 million. He said the move brings him closer to his parents, his partner Lauren Sanchez, and operations for his space company Blue Origin which are increasingly shifting to Cape Canaveral.

Miami has been attracting more of the ultra-wealthy and their companies, luring them with a combination of lifestyle, business opportunities, and low taxes. Finance moguls like Ken Griffin, Dan Loeb and Josh Harris have also bought multi-million dollar Miami Beach mansions during the pandemic.

Griffin notably moved the headquarters of his hedge fund Citadel from Chicago to Miami last year. He is also planning to build a new $1 billion headquarters for Citadel in the city. Inter Miami CF, the Florida soccer club owned by David Beckham, recently signed superstar Lionel Messi who purchased his own lavish home in the area.

While being closer to family and friends is likely a factor, the tax benefits of moving to Florida also can’t be ignored. Jeff Bezos currently resides in Washington State which passed a 7% tax on capital gains that could cost wealthy individuals like Bezos millions when they sell stock.

Meanwhile, Florida is one of nine U.S. states without personal income or capital gains taxes. This tax haven status has drawn more billionaires to make Florida their primary residence. By moving from Seattle to Miami, Bezos could avoid Washington’s new capital gains tax and save huge amounts of money when he eventually sells his Amazon shares.

Why Florida is a Hotspot for Investors

In addition to its tax advantages, Florida offers an appealing climate and business-friendly environment that makes it attractive for investors and investment funds. The state has no personal income tax and no estate tax, allowing investors and funds to grow their capital faster.

Miami has also established itself as a hub for venture capital, with VC funding to Florida startups increasing year over year. Several high-profile investors have already established offices in Miami, and the city is actively trying to recruit more VC funds and angels.

With no state capital gains tax and rising startup activity, Florida provides an optimal environment for investors looking to maximize returns. The influx of investment funds and business incentives continue to make the state more appealing for entrepreneurs as well.

Jeff Bezos is the world’s third richest man according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, with a current net worth of around $139 billion. Nearly all of his wealth comes from the 16% stake he still holds in Amazon stock.

By leaving Washington for Florida, Bezos joins other tech billionaires and investors like PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones who have relocated to the Sunshine State. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has specifically been trying to court more tech entrepreneurs, investors and venture capital to Miami.

While Bezos did not mention taxes as a reason for his move, the massive savings he will enjoy underscores why Florida has become increasingly popular with the mega-rich. Fellow billionaire Elon Musk also moved himself to Texas in 2020 which does not collect personal income tax.

With no state income tax and a low cost of living relative to coastal cities like New York and San Francisco, Florida provides financial incentives for the wealthy to establish residency. For Jeff Bezos, the hundreds of millions he could save in taxes make relocating to Miami well worth leaving Seattle, the place that birthed his legendary company Amazon.

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