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Twitter votes: Should Elon Musk sell 10 per cent of Tesla shares?

·Finance reporter
·3-min read
Tesla CEO Elon Musk waves his hand. (Source:AP)
A clear majority called for the Tesla boss to sell. (Source:AP)

Tesla billionaire Elon Musk has asked his Twitter followers whether he should sell some of his shares to make him eligible to pay taxes - and the results are in.

On November 7, he tweeted to his 62.7 million followers: “Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10 per cent of my Tesla stock. Do you support this?”

Out of 3,519,252 people who voted, a clear majority of 57.9 per cent called for him to sell the shares.

He later tweeted he would, “abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes”.

If he goes through with it, Musk could sell $28.14 billion (US$25 billion) worth of stock.

US tax debate heats up

Musk’s Twitter poll was in relation to increasing debate in the US about taxation and how the wealthy avoid paying their fair share, while at the same time, the lowest-paid workers don’t even earn a living wage.

Musk does not receive a cash salary from his role as CEO but owns approximately 193.3 million shares, which represents 20.7 per cent of the company. He is believed to be worth US$318.4 billion.

Musk is the world’s richest person and Tesla was recently valued at above US $1 trillion for the first time just last month. On 26 October, Tesla’s shares were worth US$1,024.86 each.

There are just a handful of companies that are members of the exclusive $1 trillion company club, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google's parent company, Alphabet.

In the US, the Democrats are increasing pressure on billionaires to pay taxes in light of increasing media attention on the ways they dodge paying them.

Their proposed new law would tax tradable assets like shares and property to help pay for the Biden administration’s social and climate policies.

Musk's Twitter poll questioned

Multiple people criticised Musk for his decision to ask the public whether he should pay taxes or not.

Oregon senator Mark Wyden, who is the driver behind the proposed tax, tweeted: “Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll. It’s time for the Billionaires Income Tax.”

Berkeley professor Robert Reich added: “Call me a radical Lefty, but billionaires shouldn’t be setting tax policy by Twitter polls.”

World hunger challenge

It’s not the first time Musk has used Twitter as a financial adviser. Earlier this month, he replied to a Tweet that claimed 2 per cent of his wealth could end world hunger.

He replied: “If WFP [World Food Programme] can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it.

“But it must be open source accounting, so the public sees precisely how the money is spent.”

There’s been no word publicly if Musk and World Food Programme are working together.

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