New Jersey lost its richest resident late last year when billionaire David Tepper decamped to the tax friendly climes of Florida.
Tepper registered to vote in Florida last October, listing his residence as a Miami Beach condominium, and followed up in December by filing a court document declaring that he is now a resident of the state. He also carried out a business reorganization on Jan. 1 that relocated his Appaloosa Management from New Jersey to Florida, which is free of personal income and estate taxes.
The move could save Tepper hundreds of millions of dollars in state taxes several years from now. Florida has been pitching itself as a warm-weather tax haven to hedge fund managers in the Northeast, some of whom face a 2017 deadline to pay taxes on billions of dollars in performance fees that they had kept offshore for years. A Florida residence could offer partial relief to New York and New Jersey money managers who face the prospect of surrendering at least half of the deferred money to federal, state and local taxes.
“Anyone who has a large deferral coming due in 2017” is thinking about ways of reducing the tax hit, said Anthony Tuths, a tax attorney in the New York office of Withum who advises alternative investment funds. “What is easier than packing up your house in New York City and moving down to Miami?”
Tax planning was a factor but not the main reason for Tepper’s decision to move, according to a person familiar with the situation. Family and quality-of-life considerations carried much more weight, as Tepper had recently separated from his wife in New Jersey and his mother and sister both live in Florida, said the person, asking for anonymity to discuss the billionaire’s personal affairs.
Tepper, 58, lived in New Jersey for more than two decades, initially as an executive at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where he helped run junk-bond trading during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He founded Appaloosa in 1993 and now has an estimated fortune of $10.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That ranks him as the wealthiest person in New Jersey.
New Jersey residents bear the third-highest tax burden in the country, according to Jared Walczak, an analyst at the Tax Foundation in Washington. In addition to charging the highest effective rate on owner-occupied housing, New Jersey is one of two states that levy both an estate tax on the deceased and an inheritance tax on their heirs. The state income tax rate for top earners is 8.97 percent, and the state’s Democratic legislators have repeatedly pushed for a so-called millionaire’s tax that would increase the levy to 10.75 percent.
Florida, using its lack of an income tax as part of a recruiting effort, has tried for years to attract wealthy Northeastern fund managers, with mixed success. Prominent investors who have moved to the state include Edward Lampert, the controlling shareholder of Sears Holdings Corp. Florida was home to 62 firms that primarily run private pooled vehicles such as hedge funds at the end of 2014, up from 37 at the end of 2012, according to the latest U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission data.