On Nov. 6, billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX took to Twitter to ask his 62.7 million followers to vote on whether or not he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock and pay taxes on his gains.
“Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock,” he wrote on Twitter, adding in a subsequent tweet that he “will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes.”
As of Sunday morning, over 3.3 million of Musk’s followers had voted with 57.5 percent in support of him selling his stock and 42.5 percent against.
Reactions to Musk’s Twitter poll were mixed.
A Twitter user, going by the handle “Pomp” tweeted, “If you sell $20B+ of stock, the government will be able to fund themselves for a few minutes with the tax payment you’ll make. They’ll celebrate like you balanced the budget though.” The tweet garnered over 11-thousand likes.
Another twitter user added, “You do realize that Tesla stock will now tank on Monday because of this, thus ending the awesome run the stock has made the last month. Posts like this is taking money out of the pockets of the people who have believed in you and your company the most.” The tweet attracted over 3.6 thousand likes.
Musk, currently the world’s wealthiest individual and who just recently became the first person in history to be worth in excess of US$300 billion dollars, has been a vocal critic of a recent proposal to tax unrealized gains on publicly traded assets.
On Oct. 27, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon tabled a proposal titled “Billionaires Income Tax” which argues that a special tax should be applied “to roughly 700 taxpayers and raise hundreds of billions of dollars, ensuring the wealthiest people in the country pay their fair share toward historic investments in child care, paid leave, and addressing the climate crisis.”
The proposal states that “only taxpayers with more than $100 million in annual income or more than $1 billion in assets for three consecutive years would be covered by the proposal.”
Wyden proposes that tradable assets like stocks could be taxed, opening the door for the taxation of unrealized gains.
Wyden referred to Musk’s tweet as a “stunt” and fired back at Musk tweeting, “Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll. It’s time for the Billionaires Income Tax.” After 22-hours Wyden’s tweet garnered just over 1,500 likes.
In another subsequent tweet Musk stated, “Note, I do not take a cash salary or bonus from anywhere. I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock.”
This latest move by Musk follows his response to an article published by CNN with the headline, “2% of Elon Musk’s Wealth Would Solve World Hunger, Says Director of UN Food Scarcity Organization.” The headline was later changed to “2% Of Elon Musk’s Wealth Could Help Solve World Hunger…”
Musk fired back on Twitter stating, “If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it.”
To date, the Director of the UN Food Scarcity Organization has not replied.