Washington Sen. Noel Frame isn’t disappointed in Jeff Bezos’ decision to move to Miami, despite the potential loss of revenue from a wealth tax she’s been pushing for in her home state.
Frame spoke to GeekWire on Friday following news that the Amazon founder is moving away from his longtime home in the Seattle area to be closer to family in Miami and operations for his Blue Origin space venture.
Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon CEO in 2021, didn’t cite taxes in his Instagram post announcing the move to Miami, but the decision sparked questions about whether tax policy played a role. Washington state also recently passed a 7% capital gains tax.
Frame said revenue estimates from a potential wealth tax in Washington state won’t change, as they already account for some degree of taxpayer mobility and avoidance behavior.
“Jeff Bezos is far from the only billionaire in Washington state,” Frame added.
Frame sponsored a wealth tax bill in the Washington state legislature earlier this year that would have triggered a 1% wealth tax on financial assets such as stocks and bonds, excluding the first $250 million.
Advocates of wealth-related taxes say it’s a way that Washington’s regressive tax laws can be altered to help low-wage earners. Washington does not have an income tax.
The wealth tax, which did not advance through committees in 2023, would have affected around 700 taxpayers in Washington state, including many who made their fortune in the tech industry such as Bezos, who has a net worth of around $160 billion.
Jared Walczak, vice president of state projects at D.C.-based think tank Tax Foundation, wrote on Friday that Bezos’ move is going to be “particularly hard for the state to stomach” due to the potential sizable loss of collections on a hypothetical wealth tax.
“When a tax is so heavily concentrated on a few wealthy, highly mobile individuals, that’s what happens when just one person moves,” Walczak wrote. “And if the tax were ever adopted, others might follow.”
Frame doesn’t buy the narrative that wealthy people move to avoid paying high taxes, pointing to research that says otherwise.
“People move because of their families and because of jobs,” she said. “When I look at his announcement, I’m kind of reminded that Jeff Bezos is a human being like everybody else.”
Frame said economic competitiveness is not about tax policy but rather factors such as infrastructure investments or public education.
“We should tax wealth and reinvest those dollars in amenities that attract early stage entrepreneurs to our state, so they lay down roots here and raise their families and build their wealth,” Frame said. “That’s what the data tells us. And that’s exactly what [Bezos] did with Amazon.”
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