Tesla CEO Elon Musk is asking people on Twitter whether he should sell 10% of his shares in the electric-powered vehicle company’s stock.
The eccentric billionaire is apparently responding to a Democratic plan for a possible billionaires’ tax, which would be levied on about 700 of the richest Americans including Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The plan, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., would have billionaires pay taxes based on the unrealized gains from their assets such as stock, which they hold and can borrow against rather than cashing them in. But that proposal is apparently not going forward after opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., The New York Times reported.
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That proposal was just the latest in an ongoing debate about how the wealthy can avoid federal taxes. Musk, who doesn’t take a salary but has a real-time net worth of more than $318 billion, according to Forbes, is now the richest person in history. He owns more than 190 million Tesla shares valued at just more than $250 billion, so if he sells 10% that would be more than $25 billion, according to Forbes.
The resulting tax bill would be at least 20% of the sale, but Musk has said some of his stock options would be taxed at an even higher rate, Forbes reported. Bloomberg estimated his potential stock sale at $21 billion.
So far, about 54% of the 1 million-plus who have voted in Musk’s Twitter poll say he should sell the shares. Musk said he will abide by the result of the poll, which will end Sunday afternoon, “whichever way it goes,” in another tweet.
Earlier this week, Musk responded to a tweet from noted researcher Dr. David Eli who said 2% of Musk’s wealth ($6 billion) nearly matches that raised by the UN World Food Programme (WFP): $8.4 billion. Musk said he would sell Tesla stock and donate the proceeds if the U.N. could prove his donation could save millions from hunger.
By the way, Musk could become the world’s first trillionaire, investment firm Morgan Stanley recently forecast. That’s because the value in his space startup SpaceX could skyrocket, The Guardian reported.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.