Tesla boss Elon Musk argues with Bernie Sanders on Twitter about tax policy


U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) greets reporters as he arrives to vote at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on November 1, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk argued on Twitter with Senator Bernie Sanders over tax policy this weekend and tried again on Monday morning to provoke him.

According to his website, the independent senator (who generally meets with Democrats) is a proponent of converting the U.S. energy system to renewable energy by donating $ 200 billion to a green climate fund and other environmentally-friendly measures that are good for Tesla would.

But he’s also a proponent of tax hikes for the super-rich, as is Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, whom Musk pinned in a similar exchange on Twitter in early November. Musk, who today has the highest net worth in the world, firmly rejects a so-called “billionaire income tax”.

Last week, Musk sold approximately $ 6.9 billion worth of shares. (As of Monday morning, Musk still holds more than 166 million shares in the company.) In the past few weeks, sales by Musk and other insiders have put Tesla shares under pressure. Last week, Tesla stock was down 15.4%, marking the company’s worst one-week performance in 20 months and its worst non-declining week in the first quarter of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic rocked markets. Tesla lost another 3% in late-day trading on Monday.

As his sell-off continues, Musk faces a potentially massive tax bill. However, as ProPublica reported, Musk previously paid a real tax rate of 3.27%, or $ 455 million, on an asset growth of $ 13.9 billion. Musk, who had actual taxable income of $ 1.52 billion over the five-year period, did not pay federal income taxes in 2018, according to ProPublica.

On Twitter, Sanders has more than 15 million followers and Musk has 63.8 million followers.

The spit begins

On Saturday, the 80-year-old Vermont Senator wrote in a tweet: “We must demand that the extremely rich pay their fair share. Period.”

Musk replied the next day with, “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive.” Musk also asked Sanders on Sunday, “Should I sell more shares, Bernie? Just say the word.” Then the CEO insulted the Senator: “Bernie is a taker, not a doer.”

Musk tried again to hire Sanders on Monday.

He asked, “Okay, how much do you think is fair? Does 53% seem reasonable?”

When Sanders didn’t reply, a Musk fan noted that the Senator generally doesn’t respond to followers on Twitter. Musk asked, “How do we know he wasn’t kidnapped by aliens !?” Musk continued to hold out on Twitter, discussing his tax policy preferences with fans and supporters, including promoters of Bitcoin and Tesla.

In his tweet exchange, Musk revealed that he would support an inheritance tax and taxes on what he called extravagant consumption.

The CEO also said he currently owns around 20% of Tesla’s shares.

Senator Sanders and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In 2020, Musk launched its California mansions while battling state health officials over Covid-19 restrictions affecting the Tesla Fremont factory. He then moved to Austin, Texas, near the site of a new Tesla factory that is under construction.

That year, Tesla also moved its headquarters from Palo Alto, California to Austin, Texas.

Moving from California, with the highest state income tax in the country, to Texas, which has no state income tax, could save Musk billions of dollars based on his compensation package granted in 2018.