In yet another Twitter spat with a U.S. politician, this time with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Elon Musk claimed on Tuesday his income tax bill will be larger than any other in history.
“[I]f you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year,” he tweeted.
The retort was a response to Warren’s online criticism of the country’s tax code, which she called “rigged,” along with a pointed jab at the Tesla billionaire. Warren has been a longtime proponent of a wealth tax, which would impose taxes not just on the wealthiest Americans’ income, but also their assets. Congress has yet to pass a wealth tax, although other Democratic politicians have expressed their support for one.
“Let’s change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else,” Warren tweeted.
Warren’s claims about Musk not paying much in taxes are not baseless. A 2018 ProPublica investigation revealed that Musk, at the time the second-richest person in the world, paid nothing in federal income taxes that year. He paid less than $70,000 in taxes in 2015 and 2017. The SpaceX and Tesla CEO is now the richest person in the world with a net worth of $251 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He currently doesn’t earn a cash salary, and instead only owns stock.
Musk has been offloading his shares of Tesla in droves since he declared on Twitter last month he’d be getting rid of 10% of his stock.
He has now sold almost $13 billion in Tesla shares since October, which will be subject to income tax. Musk will have to pay at least $7.6 billion in taxes for 2021, according to CNN. That number could reach up to $15 billion, depending on how much more stock he sells.
If Democrats are able to pass the billionaire tax as part of Build Back Better, Musk could be asked to pay up to $50 billion in taxes over the first five years.
Musk, who has accepted billions of dollars in government subsidies since he started his businesses, has spoken out previously about any plans to tax billionaires at higher rates.
“Eventually, they run out of other people’s money and then they come for you,” Musk tweeted in October.
Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.