Ross: Jeff Bezos is leaving Seattle, but did he really live here anyway?
Nov 6, 2023, 8:31 AM | Updated: 8:51 am
(Photo by Jeff Spicer/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Prime Video )
I noticed three of the most-read business stories in the Sunday Seattle Times were about Jeff Bezos’s decision to leave Seattle.
And I understand! It’s always sad when you lose a local billionaire, especially here. Wealth has become part of our identity. And to breathe the same air as the people who are changing the world; people with their own planes and yachts, people who can do anything they want – it makes us feel special.
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But let’s put this in perspective. Our billionaires may call Seattle “home” – but how much time do they really get to spend here?
In Bezos’s case, in addition to his place in Medina, he’s got the estate in Beverly Hills, the getaway estate in Maui, a ranch in Texas that happens to have a launch pad on the property, three apartments in New York City, and a Mega-Yacht. So, your chances of running into him at the Medina Kitchen & Market were slim anyway.
I’ve lived on Mercer Island for 34 years, you would think I’d bump into Howard Schultz at the North end QFC once in a while, especially since it has a Starbucks. One of the four Starbucks on Mercer Island, by the way. But I’ve been to all four, and I’ve still never seen him.
The most famous person I ever saw at the Mercer Island QFC was BJ Shea from KISW, who recognized me because he used to work here.
The point is people who are rich and/or famous have so many demands on their time and so many places to live that they can hardly be said to live in any one place.
Bezos got his start here; they can never take that away from us, but we never really “possessed” him once he became a billionaire. At that point, he’s a citizen of the world.
As for the theory that he was chased away by the Capital Gains tax: possibly, but that’s only a 7% tax.
If any tax chased him away, it had to be the estate tax, which Washington charges 20% on any estate over 9 million dollars.
And since Bezos is worth 161 billion, that means 32 billion would go to the state, which is more than the state will spend from the General Fund for the entire year. The state could forgive everyone else’s tax bill and still have enough left to fix the Ship Banal Bridge!
So, even though Bezos says he’s moving to be closer to his parents, I think we all agree that unless he’s discovered the secret to immortality, he would be crazy to remain in Washington if there was any risk of his passing away. So, Jeff, I don’t blame you.
Just one more thing. For the billionaires who do remain here, if you could bequeath at least part of your estates to the Ship Canal Bridge, I am sure we could name an expansion joint after you.
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