CASPER, Wyo. — Whether they are heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune or the kings of a confectionery empire, a growing number of billionaires call Wyoming home.
It doesn’t take an asset manager to understand why they would want to homestead in the state.
The tax breaks are nice. But the views are even better. And when it comes to big skies, bountiful wildlife and echoes of a wild West seen nowhere else, the state is a haven for high-profile people looking for a low-key address.
Only Colorado has more billionaires than Wyoming in the Mountain West, according to Forbes annual list of billionaires.
Whether Wyoming serves as a playground or a full-time home base for the wealthy, their big bucks mean little for the state’s coffers. There’s no income, corporate or estate tax that would give the state leverage to dip its hands into the pockets of the richest residents.
Property taxes are one avenue where the state can see some cash, said Dan Noble, director of the Wyoming Department of Revenue. Depending on their spending habits, Noble said, sales tax is another avenue for the state to reap some benefit of having a billionaire call Wyoming home.
Wyoming’s billionaire population is an outlier compared with big-money hubs in the nation. None of the known billionaires in the state are true-blue Wyomingites or entrepreneurs who forged their fortunes in the state, said Dan Alexander, the billionaire reporter for Forbes.
You have free articles remaining.
“If you look at those fortunes, unfortunately for Wyoming, these aren’t people who build their fortunes in the state,” he said.
The distribution of billionaires shows a geographic correlation to where they made their money. The techies are in California. The financiers are in New York. Texas has energy, Alexander said. For better or worse, Wyoming is a place where rich people want to live, he said.
“In states like Florida and Wyoming that have a favorable tax structure, if I had a billion dollars, I would set up in a place like that too,” he said.
No location in the state better suits a posh lifestyle than Jackson. Of the state’s super wealthy, only two live outside of the northwest region of Wyoming.
Jackson, despite its high-end boutiques and well-reviewed restaurants, is without the paparazzi or attention of other resort towns in the West, said Kate Foster, spokeswoman for the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce.
She said the well-to-do and famous faces associated with the town are seldom seen. Even if they saunter among the public, Foster said, they would be hard to spot.
“You wouldn’t know them from any other citizen or visitor in the state,” she said.