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Elon Musk Asks Twitter if He Should Sell Tesla Stock

Elon Musk tesla stock
Elon Musk offered to sell 10% of his Tesla stock if Twitter users agreed. Credit: Daniel Oberhaus / Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 4.0

Elon Musk, who is now the richest man in the world, asked Twitter users whether he should sell 10% of his stock in his company, Tesla, on Saturday.

The Tesla CEO and founder posted a poll on his Twitter account to gauge his follower’s reaction to the idea of selling off 10% of his stock, which he said he would do to fight tax avoidance.

Elon Musk offers to sell 10% of his Tesla stock

In a subsequent tweet, he noted that, although he is the CEO of the company, he is not paid a salary, rather in stock, so selling some of his shares is the only way he could be taxed for his earnings.

Note, I do not take a cash salary or bonus from anywhere. I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock,” Musk wrote.

As of Sunday, nearly three million people have voted on the poll, with 56.7% stating that yes, he should sell some stocks, and 43.3% answering no, he should not.

Musk stated on Twitter that he would “abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes.”

Currently, Musk owns 170.5 million shares in Tesla, Musk’s electric vehicle and clean energy company. As of Friday, his shares were worth a staggering $208.3 billion.

If the price of the stock remains stable, a sale of 10% would total about $20.8 billion, which could be taxed at about $4.2 billion.

Tesla CEO paid no income taxes in 2018

The poll may be response to longstanding criticism of US billionaires, many of whom skirt paying taxes. While some herald their tax avoidance as smart business, others argue that taxing their wealth could pay for many ambitious social programs in the US.

Musk paid no federal income taxes in 2018, as revealed by a ProPublica investigation that was released in June.

Musk was also personally mentioned by David Beasley, Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) last week. Beasley stated during an interview with CNN that the world’s wealthiest people, including Musk, could donate large sums of money to help fight world hunger.

He encouraged billionaires to donate “six billion dollars to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them. It’s not complicated.”

In response, Musk stated that he would donate the sum, which amounts to just 2% of his net worth, if the WFP could show exactly how $6 billion could solve world hunger. He stated that he would sell stock immediately and donate it if this could be shown.

Musk stipulated that the details must be “open source accounting, so the public sees precisely how the money is spent.”

The Tesla CEO’s tweet may impact the price of his company’s stock when trading opens on Monday. This is not the first time Musk’s tweets have swayed the market, but often they impact the price of cryptocurrencies, not his company’s own shares.

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