Elon Musk has decided to launch a 24-hour Twitter poll that will determine whether he will sell 10% of his Tesla holdings to pay for taxes on unrealized gains.
“Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock,” Musk Tweeted around 3:15 PM EST on Saturday. The Tweet is accompanied by a poll, asking voters whether they support Musk’s decision to do this. “I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes,” Musk added. “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.”
I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 6, 2021
Musk, along with other billionaires, is often the subject of criticism for having an exponential net worth that has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic while others struggle. However, Musk, along with many other billionaires, does not have his entire net worth sitting in his wallet or checking account. The funds are tied in up stock. For Musk, it’s $TSLA, the company he owns 23% of, which puts his net worth at $318.4 billion, making him the richest man in the world by around $115 billion over Jeff Bezos, Forbes’ Billionaires List shows.
Musk’s net worth has been increasing since 2020 when Tesla started to meteorically surge in valuation. The company has experienced another tremendous increase in stock price over the past month, as Tesla is now the sixth trillion-dollar company on Earth and has gained 50% of its value in the past month. Tesla shares (NASDAQ: TSLA) closed at $1,222.09 on Friday.
Musk has never taken a salary from Tesla, and still to this day has not received a paycheck from the company. When the company was based in Palo Alto, California, Musk did receive the State-required minimum salary but never used it for himself. “I don’t cash it,” Musk said to the New York Times in 2018. “It just ends up accumulating in a Tesla bank account somewhere.”
The most recent form of criticism Musk has received about taxes was from an article in the San Antonio Express-News. The article claimed Tesla’s move from California to Texas was a move of “betrayal” and a way for Musk to avoid paying taxes.
Last year, Bernie Sanders, a Democrat from Vermont, stated in the “Make Billionaires Pay Act,” that Musk should pay a one-time, $27.5 billion tax. “According to Americans for Tax Fairness and Institute for Policy, if we taxed 60 percent of the windfall gains these billionaires made from March 18th until August 5th  we could raise $421.7 billion,” the release said. “That’s enough revenue to allow Medicare to pay all of the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for everyone in America over the next 12 months.” The act was never passed.
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