Elon Musk agreed to sell of 10% of his stock in Tesla on Monday after asking Twitter users to vote in a poll whether or not the clean energy and electric car company CEO should sell his shares.
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 amongst billionaires.
In a subsequent tweet, he noted that, although he is the CEO of the company, he is not paid a salary, but rather acquires stock, so selling some of his shares is the only way he could be taxed for his earnings.
Elon Musk agrees to sell Tesla stock after Twitter poll
“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.
Musk stated on Twitter that he would “abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes.”
The poll concluded with 58% of over 3.5 million voters agreeing that the 50-year-old CEO should sell 10% of his stock in Tesla, an amount that totals to over $20 billion.
Musk’s move caused the price of Tesla shares to drop about 5% when the market opened 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.
Currently, Musk owns 170.5 million shares in Tesla, Musk’s electric vehicle and clean energy company.
The Twitter poll and the Billionaires Tax
The poll may be a response to longstanding criticism of US billionaires, many of whom skirt the paying taxes by using loopholes, offshore corporations, and other means. While some herald their tax avoidance as doing 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.
Democrats, citing the ProPublica investigation, have pushed for a special billionaires income tax to combat tax avoidance.
Ron Wyden, the Democrat Representative from Oregon, criticized Musk’s Twitter poll while advocating for the taxing of billionaires, writing “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.”
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. https://t.co/KFHw3VZ45H
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) November 6, 2021
Musk was also personally mentioned by David Beasley, Director of the UN World Food Program (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.”