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Elon Musk polls Twitter about Tesla shares sale

Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk says he’ll let Twitter users decide if he should sell 10 per cent of the 170.5 million shares he holds in the technology company.

Mr Musk posted a Twitter poll today (AEST) which said, “Much is made lately of unrealised gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10 per cent of my Tesla stock. Do you support this?”

He added he will follow the poll’s result whichever way it goes. Three hours after the poll was being posted more than a million people had voted, with 54.1 per cent voting yes and 45.9 per cent voting no.

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Mr Musk receives no salary from Tesla. His 170.5 million shares of Telsa were worth US$208.3 billion ($281.4 billion) as of the close of trading on Friday. At the price of US$1,2209.09 per share, 10 per cent of them would be valued at US$20.8 billion. With a long-term capital gains tax rate of 20 per cent for someone in Mr Musk’s income bracket, it would equal a tax bill from the sale approaching US$4.2 billion.

He has owned 80 per cent of those 170.5 million Tesla shares since the company’s initial public offering in 2010. A ProPublica investigation in June found Mr Musk paid no federal income taxes in 2018 — and in 2017 he paid only US$65,000.

“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,” Mr Musk tweeted on Saturday.


Earlier in the week, Mr Musk offered to sell Tesla stock ‘right now’ if the United Nations could prove US$6 billion would solve world hunger.

His comments Monday came after UN World Food Programme (WFP) director David Beasley challenged the ultra-wealthy, and in particular the world’s two richest men — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Mr Musk — to “step up now, on a one-time basis” to help solve world hunger.

“Six billion dollars to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them. It’s not complicated,” Mr Beasley told CNN last week.

As of Saturday, Mr Musk is the richest man on earth with a total net worth of US$338 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

READ MORE: Musk offers to sell Tesla stock ‘right now’ if UN can show how $6 billion can solve world hunger

Prince William has also criticised billionaires who are focused on space tourism, which could include Mr Musk, who also founded SpaceX.

The company sent the first all-tourist crew to space in September, though most of the company’s revenue comes from commercial launches and NASA contracts.

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