Musk lets Twitter users oblige him to sell shares

AUSTIN Tesla boss Elon Musk has had Twitter users oblige him to sell a tenth of his stake in the electric car manufacturer for higher tax payments. In a Twitter poll initiated by Musk, 57.9 percent of the votes were in favor of selling shares. The package would currently be worth more than $ 20 billion. Musk assured him beforehand that he would stick to the result of the Twitter vote.

As by far the richest person in the world, the 50-year-old has recently been increasingly confronted with demands to contribute more to solving the world’s problems and to pay more taxes. Musk’s fortune has grown strongly in recent months with the steady rise in the price of Tesla shares, at least on paper. However, according to the current rules, taxes are only due when he reaps the price gains from a sale.

Musk said on Twitter at the start of the survey that since he does not get a salary or bonus payments, selling stocks is the only way for him to pay taxes. He will stick to the result of the Twitter vote, no matter how it turns out. A total of 3.5 million votes were cast within 24 hours by Sunday evening, Central European time. Musk is followed by 62.7 million users on Twitter. At the end of the survey, he confirmed that he was ready to accept any result.

Musk did not provide any information on how quickly he would sell the block of shares. Long-term schedules are often set for stock sales by top managers. This is to avoid accusations that they use internal knowledge for clever deals. Musk had already spoken about selling stocks at a conference appearance in September because he would need money to pay taxes on maturing stock options.

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In the USA, among others, there is currently a lot of discussion about reforming the tax system, which could start with wealth. Referring to Twitter, Musk said, “Recently, unrealized gains have often been referred to as a way to avoid taxes, so I suggest selling 10 percent of my Tesla stock.”

US Senator Ron Wyden, an influential advocate for higher taxation of billionaires, was unfazed by Musk’s action. “Whether the richest man in the world pays taxes should not depend on the results of a Twitter poll,” wrote the Democrat on the social network.

According to calculations by financial service Bloomberg, the package would correspond to 80 percent of the average daily trading volume of Tesla shares. Based on the 170.5 million shares held by Musk, the ten percent would be worth around $ 21 billion at the current price. Bloomberg calculates Musk’s total fortune on its billionaires list at $ 338 billion. The star entrepreneur also holds a large stake in the space company SpaceX. With his share ownership, he has secured some personal loans.

Just a few days ago, Musk had a Twitter debate with the head of the US World Food Program, David Beasley. After Beasley asked the billionaire for help in the fight against hunger, Musk asked him to first publish detailed information on the spending “so people can see exactly where the money is going.”

The US Securities and Exchange Commission ordered Tesla three years ago to first release Musk’s tweets, which could have an impact on the share price. The trigger was his announcement, which was later dropped, that he wanted to take Tesla off the stock exchange, in which, according to the SEC, he misled investors about the status of the financing.

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