I will admit it: I liked the way that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Liberal Washington Post, to save it when the Graham family were running out of money. Full disclosure: I am a basic digital subscriber to the Post. I have previously said that I appreciated billionaires who bought newspapers, to fail an otherwise failing industry, as long as they understood that losses were inevitable. Sadly, Mr Bezos isn’t too happy with that last part. We have also noted that Patrick Soon-Shiong, the billionaire who bought the Los Angeles Times, with a piddling $5.9 billion to his name, might feel much more pressure than Mr Bezos, current guesstimated net worth of $194.1 billion, in taking $40-$50 million a year losses.
Well, perhaps Mr Bezos can put a little less pressure on the Post, now that he’s made this money-saving move:
by Robert Frank | Monday, February 12, 2024
Last year, Bezos announced on Instagram that he was leaving Seattle after nearly 30 years to move to Miami.
In 2022 Washington state imposed a new, 7% capital gains tax on sales of stocks or bonds of more than $250,000.
Bezos plans to unload 50 million shares of Amazon before Jan. 31, 2025. Posting those sales in Florida will save him at least $610 million.
Jeff Bezos’ $2 billion stock sale last week came with an added perk: no state taxes.
Last year, Bezos announced on Instagram that he was leaving Seattle after nearly 30 years to move to Miami. He said the move was to be closer to his parents and his rocket launches at Blue Origin. The timing also suggested another reason: taxes.
In 2022 Washington state imposed a new, 7% capital gains tax on sales of stocks or bonds of more than $250,000. Washington state doesn’t have a personal income tax, so the new levy marked the first time Bezos would face state taxes on his stock sales.
Starting in 1998 Bezos sold billions of dollars worth of Amazon shares almost every year for more than two decades to fund his philanthropy, his space company Blue Origin, and more recently his $500 million mega yacht and a growing collection of mansions purchased with his fiancé Lauren Sanchez.
In 2022, when the tax took effect, Bezos stopped selling. He didn’t sell any Amazon stock in 2022 or 2023, gifting only $200 million of shares at the end of last year.
After his move to Miami, Bezos made up for lost time. Last week, a filing with the SEC revealed that Bezos launched a pre-scheduled stock-selling plan to unload 50 million shares before Jan. 31, 2025. At today’s price, that would total more than $8.7 billion.
Simply put, rapacious state governments trying to steal more money from the people who earned it wind up influencing the decisions of the people who earned that money. Mr Bezos had the freedom to move away from the left coast to the far more sensible Sunshine State, and did.
Florida has no state income tax or a tax on capital gains. So on the $2 billion sale last week, he saved $140 million that he would have paid to Washington state. On the entire sale of 50 million shares over the next year, he will save at least $610 million. And that’s assuming Amazon shares remain flat. If they continue to rise, the value of his shares — and his tax savings — will be even higher.
That’s some major bucks he doesn’t have to give to a left-wing state government, which would doubtlessly spend it on welfare and illegal aliens. Mr Bezos could, and should, spend some of those savings on the Post, to decrease the financial pressure on that august newspaper, at least if his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez doesn’t persuade him to waste more of it on yachts and mansions.
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Author: Dana Pico
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