Elon Musk says he makes use of a Twitter ballot to find out the way forward for 10% of his Tesla shares


Elon Musk asked his 62.5 million Twitter followers on Saturday to determine the future of part of his Tesla inventory.

Twitter polls are informal, however, and Musk previously said he would likely sell “a large block” of his options in the fourth quarter.

Speaking at the Code Conference in September, Musk said that when his stock options at Tesla expire, his marginal tax rate will be above 50% and he already plans to sell soon.

“I have a number of options that expire early next year, so … a huge block of options will be sold in the fourth quarter – because I have to, or they will expire,” Musk said at the conference.

Other current and former Tesla board members, including Robyn Denholm, Kimbal Musk, Ira Ehrenpreis and Antonio Gracias, have sold hundreds of millions of dollars of Tesla shares since October 28, when the company’s shares rebounded.

Shares rose after a record quarter for Tesla and an announcement from rental car company Hertz to order 100,000 Tesla vehicles for its fleet. Musk waited a week after Hertz made its announcement to clarify that Tesla hadn’t yet signed a deal with the rental company. Before making that statement, he mocked investors who had sold Tesla shorts on Twitter and wrote, “Tesla Hertz Shorts.”

Since the Hertz announcement, Tesla shares have risen around 34%, and so has Elon Musk’s net worth.

According to InsiderScore Director of Research Ben Silverman, Tesla had just over 1 billion shares outstanding at the end of October. If Musk were to exercise his options today, the number of shares outstanding would increase by just over 2%, according to InsiderScore. Silverman predicts the shareholder impact will be minimal, also because the sales will come as no surprise.

“Musk will likely continue to be vocal about what he’s doing – exercise the options because they’re about to expire, sell stocks because of the huge tax burden and the liquidity of Tesla stock,” he said.

The Tesla CEO hinted that he was actually responding to criticism for avoiding paying his fair share of taxes instead of just managing his holdings of options, and on Saturday asked users to decide whether to turn 10 Hold or sell% of its stocks or not.

“A lot has been done lately that unrealized gains are a means of tax avoidance, so I suggest selling 10% of my Tesla stock. Do you support that?” he said. Musk added a polling feature so that users can vote “yes” or “no”.

“I will stick to the results of this poll no matter which way it goes,” added Musk, one of the richest people in the world. It was not immediately clear what the proposed sale would mean. Last December, Musk owned approximately 22.4% of the company’s outstanding shares.

Billionaires can benefit from tax avoidance strategies not offered to people whose income comes from conventional wages. Extreme wealth is often based largely on the rising value of stocks and real estate, which are not considered taxable unless those assets are sold.

Earlier this summer, ProPublica, an investigative news site, reported on Musk’s tax bill as part of a comprehensive analysis of billionaires’ finances. The point of sale found that Musk’s income tax bill was zero in 2018. Musk later shot back, saying the coverage was “tricky” and “misleading”. He added that the number was so low because he wasn’t on a salary, so his cash compensation was close to zero.

“Note that I don’t get any cash or bonus anywhere. I only have stocks, so I can only pay taxes in person by selling stocks,” he said on Saturday.

Of its sizeable holdings, Musk has options on 22,862,050 shares at $ 6.24 that expire on August 13, 2022. He was granted these options in 2012.

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