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Washington state's proposed wealth tax would cost Bezos $2 billion a year: report

The Hill logo The Hill 2/8/2021 Justine Coleman
Jeff Bezos wearing a suit and tie: Washington state's proposed wealth tax would cost Bezos $2 billion a year: report © The Hill Washington state's proposed wealth tax would cost Bezos $2 billion a year: report

Washington state's proposed wealth tax would cost Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos $2 billion per year, CNBC reported on Monday.

State legislators in Washington proposed a bill that would institute a 1 percent tax on wealth more than $1 billion.

Bezos is one of four mega-billionaires that tax experts say would face the brunt of the cost under the proposed tax, along with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Bezos's ex-wife MacKenzie Scott and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Lawmakers have said the tax, aimed to combat inequality in the state without an income tax, would raise about $2.5 billion total per year.

Jared Walczak, the vice president of state projects for state tax policy at the Tax Foundation, estimated in a post that 97 percent of that revenue would come from the four mega-billionaires in the state, citing data from Forbes.

According to CNBC, Gates would owe $1.3 billion per year, Scott would owe about $600 million per year and Ballmer would owe about $870 million per year. Walczak argued that the wealth tax would prompt these individuals to move and/or change their state of residence to avoid the payments.

"This would not only foil the wealth tax but would deprive the state of other revenue as well," Walczak said in his post. "These wealthy residents still pay a disproportionate share of state and local taxes and contribute substantially to the local economy. Chasing them out would have serious consequences beyond the failure of a new tax."

State Rep. Noel Frame (D), who introduced the bill, pointed out that Washington's current tax system contributed to inequities in the state as the lowest earners pay 18 percent of their income in state taxes, compared to the top 1 percent who pay 6 percent of their income.

Amazon announced last week that Bezos plans to step down as CEO and become the executive chair of the board in the third quarter of 2021.

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