Elon Musk Will Sell Tesla Shares to Pay Taxes: The People Have Spoken

Elon Musk polled Twitter on whether he should sell Tesla stock, Twitter said yes 7 photos
Photo: Twitter / Elon Musk
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The people have spoken, as the saying goes. And the people have decided that Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX CEO and currently the world’s richest man, will have to unload 10% of his Tesla shares in order to pay his taxes.
Over the weekend, in a very strange approach that was nonetheless on-brand for him, Elon Musk asked Twitter whether he should sell some shares to pay his taxes. He set up a poll and promised that he would abide by whatever result it would yield, phrasing the whole stunt in a way that made him look as if he was taking a stand against a proposed bill, the “Billionaire Tax,” that would tax unrealized gains.

Musk had taken issues with the bill before because it aims to tax tradeable assets like stock holdings instead of income. Like many other multi-millionaires and billionaires, Musk doesn’t take a salary or bonus from his companies. Still, it holds stock in them, or what is known as unrealized gains. Should he sell these off, he would realize the gains, and he’d be taxed on income. Also, like many other multi-millionaires, Musk takes loans against these stocks, offering some as collateral.

The Twitter poll has now ended, and the majority has decided that Musk must sell 10% of his Tesla stock to pay taxes: 57.9% of over 3.5 million voters said yes. Estimates put the worth of the stock at $21 to $24 billion, so you can imagine that his very cavalier attitude about it (letting Twitter decide, that is) has caused serious controversy in the virtual space. Controversy aside, Musk says he was ready from the start for either alternative, which is a close indication that he will, indeed, sell the shares.

The reasons behind the highly debated move are equally controversial. Industry analysts are saying Musk would have sold either way, since he has stock that expires in Q1 of 2022, and there are reports that there’s a looming $15 billion tax he needs liquidity for. Critics claim that he’s just manipulating public opinion to paint himself in a positive light while doing something he would have done regardless. Others claim the move is showing lack of faith in the current over-valuation of Tesla stock, while others say he’s trying to distract from other things, like negative coverage of the FSD rollout and Autopilot accidents.

In the end, the real reason is known only to Musk, but the effects of it will be known to all, customers and investors alike. As long as Musk keeps his word.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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