SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk holds a helmet as he visits the construction site of Tesla’s gigafactory in Gruenheide, near Berlin, Germany on May 17, 2021.
Michèle Tantussi | Reuters
Elon Musk asked millions of his Twitter followers on Saturday to determine the future of some of his Tesla holdings.
Responding to criticism that he avoided paying his fair share of taxes, Tesla’s CEO asked users to decide whether or not to own or sell 10% of his shares.
“There has been a lot of talk lately about unrealized gains as a means of tax evasion, so I am proposing to sell 10% of my Tesla shares. Are you in favor of that?” he said. Musk added a polling feature, so users can vote “Yes” or “No”.
“I will respect the results of this poll, whatever the meaning,” added Musk, one of the richest people in the world. The amount of the proposed sale or the tax rate was not immediately clear. As of December, Musk owned about 22.4% of the company’s outstanding shares, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Billionaires may benefit from tax avoidance strategies not offered to people whose income comes from conventional wage income. Extreme wealth is often largely based on the rising value of stocks and real estate that are not considered taxable unless those assets are sold. This is where the unrealized 10% gain comes in: if Musk sells, he will be taxed.
Earlier this summer, ProPublica, an investigative news site, reported on Musk’s tax bill as part of a massive analysis of billionaire finances. The outlet found that Musk’s income tax bill was zero in 2018. Musk then fired back, saying the reporting was “difficult” and “misleading.” He added that the number was so low because he is not receiving a salary, so his cash compensation is close to zero.
“Note that I do not take any cash or bonus wages from anywhere. I only have stocks, so the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stocks,” he said. Saturday.
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