Bezos’ Miami Move Is Not About Washington’s Taxes

"Miami is a city that runs on hype. For the legions of sales and marketing people hawking condos near the beach, there can be no greater gift than Thursday’s news that billionaire Jeff Bezos, the world’s third-richest man, is moving his permanent residence to the area. With the help of the South Florida propaganda machine, the decision will be portrayed as vindication of everything local leaders and developers have worked toward in the past 40 years — a capstone achievement for a city that’s “made it,” leaving behind its 1980s Cocaine Cowboys image and transforming itself into a tropical Silicon Valley meets Wall Street."

"That fairy tale may sell a few condos, but what’s really behind Bezos’ decision?"

"Wealthy entrepreneurs are products of their local communities. Whether that’s Seattle, San Francisco or New York, their success is partially a result of the networks they’ve nurtured in those very specific social and business ecosystems. For many of them, moving would mean uprooting spouses and children and could well prove a major professional setback. Indeed, the work of Cornell University sociologist Cristobal Young — author of the Myth of Millionaire Tax Flight: How Place Still Matters for the Rich — has shown that “embeddedness” remains a powerful offset to the financial incentives for tax migration, even in the age of Zoom and the post-pandemic work-from-anywhere revolution. To cite an extreme example, hardly anyone is moving from high-tax New York to zero-tax Alaska, even though the savings would be substantial. Relationships, community and lifestyle almost always come first.

No doubt, Florida is something of a special case since it has so many factors going for it at once: nice winter weather, a cool lifestyle and an attractive tax environment as the cherry on top. It’s no surprise that we’re finding more and more anecdotes of baby boomer and Generation X billionaires opting for the Sunshine State. But Bezos’ move 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. By and large, it really does seem to be mostly personal."

Read the full Bloomberg article

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