Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and the world’s wealthiest person, asked his Twitter followers on Saturday whether he should sell 10% of his ownership in the firm, ostensibly to pay more tax.
He wrote, “Much has been made recently about unrealized gains being a way of tax avoidance, thus I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock.” In a following tweet, he stated that he would follow the poll’s findings “either way it goes.” With 57 percent of more than 3.1 million ballots cast by Sunday morning, “yes” responses had taken the lead.
Musk had been a vociferous opponent of a plan to tax unrealized gains on publicly traded assets for some of the country’s wealthiest people. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) proposes that if a person’s assets increase in value, even if they are not sold, the person must pay taxes on the unrealized gain. It would effectively close a tax loophole that allows billionaires to defer capital gains taxes indefinitely while still borrowing against their assets.
“Eventually, they run out of other people’s money, and then they come for you,” Musk said in response to a tweet criticizing the concept in October.
“Whether or not the world’s wealthiest guy pays any taxes at all should not depend on the results of a Twitter poll, it is time for the Billionaires Income Tax,” Wyden tweeted on Saturday in response to Musk’s proposal.
It was not the first time Musk had mentioned selling some Tesla stock on Saturday. At Code Conference in September, Musk informed journalist Kara Swisher that he wanted to sell a large portion of his Tesla stock options before they expired. “I have a boatload of [stock] options that expire early next year,” he explained, “so that’s a big block of options we’ll sell in Q4.”