Elon Musk puts fate of $US21 billion Tesla stocks on Twitter poll

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk should sell 10 per cent of his Tesla stock, says a majority of people who voted on his Twitter poll asking users whether he should offload the stake.

Key points:Elon Musk owns a 23 per cent stake in Tesla, a company worth more than $US1 trillion ($1.35 trillion) Mr Musk conducted the poll after criticising a proposal by US Senate Democrats to tax billionaires' stocks The Tesla chief executive says he was prepared to accept either outcome of the Twitter poll

The world's richest person pledged to offload the shares if Twitter users approved the proposal.

"Much is made lately of unrealised gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10 per cent of my Tesla stock," Mr Musk tweeted.

The 50-year-old said he does not take a cash salary or bonus "from anywhere" and only has stock.

"Thus, the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock," he said.

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The poll garnered more than 3.5 million votes, with 57.9 per cent of people voting in favour of the sale. 

"I was prepared to accept either outcome," Mr Musk said, after the voting ended.

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Including stock options, Mr Musk owns a 23 per cent stake in Tesla, the world's most valuable car company whose market value recently exceeded $US1 trillion ($1.35 trillion).

As of June 30 this year, Mr Musk's shareholding in Tesla amounted to approximately 170.5 million shares.

Selling 10 per cent would amount to about $US21 billion ($28 billion).

He also owns other valuable companies, including Space X.

Mr Musk has previously said he would have to exercise a large number of options in the next three months, which would create a big tax bill.

Selling some of his stock could free up funds to pay the taxes.

Last month, Tesla relocated its headquarters from California to Texas, a move experts say will lead to a reduced tax bill because Texas has no income tax.

Tax reform debate as Biden looks to fund social spending 

Mr Musk's Twitter poll comes amid debate about billionaire tax avoidance in the United States. 

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US Senate Democrats have unveiled a proposal to tax billionaires' stocks and other tradeable assets to help finance President Joe Biden's social spending agenda and fill a loophole that has allowed them to defer capital gains taxes indefinitely.

Mr Musk has criticised the proposal, saying, "Eventually they run out of other peoples' money and then they come for you". 

US Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, who floated the tax proposal, responded to the poll saying, "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," he said. 

Mr Musk's brother, Kimbal Musk, last week sold 88,500 Tesla shares, becoming the latest board member to offload a large number of Tesla stocks, which hit record highs.

A week ago, Elon Musk said on Twitter that he would sell $US6 billion ($8 billion) in Tesla stock and donate it to the United Nations' World Food Program (WFP), provided the organisation disclosed more information about how it spent its money. 

A red neon sign reads Tesla
Elon Musk's brother, Kimbal Musk, last week sold 88,500 Tesla shares, after the stock hit record highs. (Reuters: Edgar Su)

ABC / Reuters

Posted 7 Nov 20217 Nov 2021Sun 7 Nov 2021 at 11:09pm, updated 8 Nov 20218 Nov 2021Mon 8 Nov 2021 at 12:17amShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp

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