Tesla shares down 5% after share sell challenge by Musk on Twitter
In a Twitter poll conducted over the weekend, Elon Musk asked his 62 million followers on the social media site whether they were in favor of him selling 10 percent of his Tesla stocks.
“Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock,” he wrote on the social media platform. “Do you support this?” Musk wrote on his Twitter account.
Nearly 58 percent of the 3,519,252 million users who participated in the survey voted in favor and Tesla shares plummeted Monday following the news.
Musk owns about 20 percent of all Tesla shares, equivalent to roughly Ksh.22.3 billion (US$.200 billion). His personal fortune is currently about Ksh.37.7 trillion (US$.338 billion), according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.
Musk noted in a follow-up Tweet that he does “not take a cash salary or bonus from anywhere” and that in only owning stock, he can only pay personal taxes by selling said stock.
The poll comes following a new tax proposal by Oregon senator Ron Wyden (which has since been dropped) that would have all U.S. billionaires taxed on their investments, a plan that Musk has openly opposed.
“The Billionaires Income Tax would ensure billionaires pay tax every year, just like working Americans,” Wyden said last month. “We have a historic opportunity with the Billionaires Income Tax to restore fairness to our tax code and fund critical investments in American families.”
Wyden himself reacted to Musk’s Tweet, reposting it and adding his own commentary.
“Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll,” he wrote. “It’s time for the Billionaires Income Tax.”
The survey also followed a back-and-forth last week between the Tesla founder and the chief of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley.
In an exchange on Twitter, Musk had said he would sell Tesla shares to gain cash to help fight world hunger as long as Beasley could prove where the money was going.
According to Beardsley, additional funds of just under Ksh.782.5 billion (US$.7 billion) could save 42 million people currently facing the prospect of starvation. He called on the world’s billionaires for a “one-time” cash favor in order to save lives.
“If we don’t act, this is what will happen: people WILL die of hunger; there will be destabilization of nations & mass migration, which will cost 100X more than the $6B+ we need,” Beasley wrote on Twitter. “Which do you think is a better investment?!”