Updated on: Sunday, November 07, 2021, 10:35 PM IST

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s $25 billion Twitter poll


CEO Elon Musk on Saturday asked his 62.5 million followers on Twitter if he should sell 10 per cent of his stock in Tesla, the electric-vehicle company, amid pressure in Washington to increase taxes on billionaires like him.

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about some of the richest people in the world not paying taxes; many of them have most of their wealth tied to stocks. Some Democrats have been pushing for these billionaires to pay taxes when the price of the stocks they hold goes up, even if they don't sell any shares. It's a concept called “unrealized gains,” and Musk is sitting on a lot of them with a net worth of roughly USD 300 billion, it is pointed out.

“Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10 per cent of my Tesla stock,” Musk tweeted Saturday afternoon, re-injecting himself into the debate.

‘‘Do you support this?”

By 5:40 pm Eastern time, a little more than two hours after Musk's initial tweet, 54 per cent said yes out of a total of 876,189 votes.

Much of Musk's wealth is also held in shares of Tesla, which does not pay him a cash salary. “I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock,” he tweeted.

Musk, who is known for his sometimes flippant tweets, said he would “abide by the results of this poll.’’

According to Investopedia, Musk owns 193.3 million Tesla shares, which is just over $250 billion — so a 10 percent sell-off would be valued around $25 billion, and a hefty chunk would then go to the US government in capital gains taxes.

"We are witnessing the Twitter masses deciding the outcome of a $25B coin flip," Venture investor Chamath Palihapitiya wrote on Twitter. "Looking forward to the day when the richest person in the world paying some tax does not depend on a Twitter poll," Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman tweeted.

Musk recently also said on Twitter he'd sell $6 billion in Tesla stock and donate it to the World Food Program (WFP), provided the organization disclosed more information about how it spent its money. His tweet raised some eyebrows in the world of finance.

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Published on: Sunday, November 07, 2021, 10:35 PM IST