In an ambitious move by the legislature, Florida is thinking about a plan that would completely change the way it taxes things by getting rid of property taxes and putting in place a higher sales tax. Representative Ryan Chamberlin, a Republican, came up with the idea to get rid of property taxes for Floridian homeowners.
Higher sales tax seen as more appropriate solution
He wants to switch to a tax system that charges for goods and services instead. This big change is meant to relieve what Chamberlin and his supporters see as an unfair financial burden on property owners. They say that the current system makes people “rent” their homes from the government by making them pay property taxes every month, even after their mortgages are paid off.
Some Democrats and other critics say that this change could lead to one of the highest sales taxes in the country, which would make things more expensive for everyone in the state, regardless of whether they own property or not. The proposal asks the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) to do a full study on how local governments could make up for the lost revenue.
The longshot legislature will take years before becoming a law
The results must be turned in by July 1, 2025. Some people, like Chamberlin, support the change because they think it will lower overall taxes for most Floridians if it is carried out correctly. On the other hand, people who are against it are worried about how it will affect municipal funding and whether it is fair to raise sales taxes so much. This argument brings up an important question about what it means to really own property in Florida and how to best set up tax policies so that everyone is treated fairly and can afford to live there.
The Jeff Bezos story
Last week, Jeff Bezos sold $2 billion of his stocks without having to pay any state taxes, which was a big advantage for him.
Bezos shared on Instagram last year that after almost 30 years in Seattle, he decided to move to Miami. He mentioned wanting to be closer to his family and the rocket launches at his company, Blue Origin. But the move also seemed to dodge new taxes.
In 2022 Washington state imposed a new, 7% capital gains tax on sales of stocks or bonds of more than $250,000. Since Washington doesn’t tax personal income, this was the first time Bezos would have had to pay state taxes on his stock sales.
Since 1998, Bezos has been selling billions in Amazon stocks nearly every year for over twenty years. He used the money for charity, his space venture Blue Origin, a huge $500 million yacht, and several houses he bought with his fiancé Lauren Sanchez.
Bezos stopped selling stocked as soon as Washington enforced the capital gains tax
In 2022, as the new tax came into effect, Bezos held off on selling any Amazon stock, not selling a single share in 2022 or 2023. He only gave away $200 million worth of shares by the end of the last year.
After moving to Miami, Bezos quickly caught up. A document for the SEC showed he planned to sell 50 million shares before the end of January 2025. If sold at the current price, this would bring in over $8.7 billion.
Florida doesn’t have state income or capital gains taxes. So, by selling $2 billion worth of shares last week, Bezos avoided paying $140 million in taxes to Washington state. Selling all 50 million shares could save him at least $610 million in taxes, assuming Amazon’s stock price doesn’t change. If the stock price goes up, his savings and the value of his shares will increase even more.
Effectively, Bezos has already covered the cost of his 417-foot yacht, Koru, just with the tax savings from moving to Florida.
Bezos bought two mansions in Indian Creek for $147 million and is considering buying three more properties there. The area is home to celebrities like Tom Brady and Carl Icahn. It’s said Bezos might demolish the current houses to build a new one, with the total spending possibly going over $200 million.