Elon Musk trusted his Twitter followers with a decision that is essentially worth $25 billion at a time when most of us wouldn’t trust our Twitter followers with washing their hands after sneezing into them. On Saturday, the Tesla and Space X CEO took to Twitter to ask his followers if he should sell ten percent of his Tesla stock in order to fund some taxes that Democrats in the U.S. want him to pay. Although Elon Musk is literally the richest man in the world, he asked his followers what he should do when it comes to paying his fair share in taxes like the other 99 percent of the country.
When it was all said and done Elon Musk’s followers voted in favor of him selling his stock by a surprisingly narrow margin of 57.9 percent to 42.1 percent. Prior to the poll ending, Elon Musk declared that he will abide by the results of the poll and he seemingly doubled down on that assertion noting that he was prepared to make the call no matter what the results were.
The reason that the incredibly wealthy mogul is debating selling ten percent of his Tesla stock is to pay for a proposed tax being suggested by Senate Democrats that they hope will ensure billionaires like Elon Musk pay their fair share in taxes. As The Guardian notes, the proposal will tax the country’s 700 wealthiest people on the annual increase in the value of their stock shares that they own. At the moment, they’re only taxed when gains are “realized” or sold for an actual profit. As a result, people like Musk could sit on a pile of “unrealized” stock money that simply doesn’t get taxed.
Elon Musk claimed in a follow-up tweet that, if that were to happen, he doesn’t have the liquid capital to pay such a tax since his portfolio is mostly all in stocks (yeah, right). So, selling 10 percent of his Tesla stock could free up some money to pay taxes.
Reuters reports that Elon Musk owns 170.5 million shares as of June 30, and a ten percent sale would amount to somewhere between $20-$25 billion. The outlet reports that the Twitter poll is the latest petty move on behalf of Elon Musk to jab the proposed tax that would see billionaires like him finally pay annual taxes like the rest of the country as opposed to hoarding his wealth behind the “unrealized” loophole. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden reportedly bashed the Twitter poll by noting that’s absolutely no way for the decision about whether or not an exceptionally wealthy man pays any taxes whatsoever this year to be made.
Elon Musk is a controversial figure these days. His space race with fellow billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson is not a great look at a time when economic inequality is not only among the worst it’s ever been, it’s the most visible it’s ever been. While allowing his followers to decide if he pays taxes this year may seem like the ultimate application of democracy, the truth is it’s more of a petty jab about the principle of proposed taxes to help pay for Democrats’ agenda than the actual freedom to weigh in on Elon Musk’s personal finance.