'I Keep Forgetting You're Still Alive': Musk Taunts Sanders After He Urges Rich to Pay 'Fair Share'

© REUTERS / Hannibal HanschkeFILE PHOTO: Red carpet for the Axel Springer award, in Berlin
FILE PHOTO: Red carpet for the Axel Springer award, in Berlin - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.11.2021
Elon Musk’s reply to a Bernie Sanders tweet has caused quite a stir on social media after the tech entrepreneur remarked that he simply keeps "forgetting" that the independent lawmaker is "still alive."
In response to a Sanders’ tweet suggesting that the “extremely wealthy pay their fair share,” Musk delivered a snark-riddled reply by stating, “I keep forgetting you’re still alive.”
Although Sanders did not directly reply to the barb, Musk followed up the tweet with another, reading, “Want me to sell more stock, Bernie? Just say the word…”
The tech CEO and the progressive senator’s dispute goes back to Sanders’ support for a ‘billionaire tax’ that would tax unrealized capital gains. Currently, only realized capital gains are taxed.
Musk doesn’t receive a salary from Tesla but instead is compensated with stock options. What this means is that as Musk’s net worth increases through his holding of Tesla stocks, he doesn’t have to pay taxes on unrealized capital gains even as his overall wealth increases.
Musk appears to be making a point to Sanders and the so-called 'billionaire tax' through the former’s decision to sell a sizable chunk of his Tesla stock. In a Twitter poll that Musk personally conducted earlier in the week, he asked followers if he should sell Tesla stock. Thus far, Musk has reportedly sold close to $7 billion of the automaker stock, at current rates.
The sale of Tesla stock, which are realized capital gains, are taxable under the current American tax code. However, there are two distinct brackets of capital gains, long-term and short-term capital gains. Long-term capital gains are from the sale of stock held for more than a year and short-term capital gains are from the sale of stock held for under a year.
If Musk is selling stock he has held for more than a year, it will be taxed at a 0%, 15%, or 20% rate, depending on his tax bracket. If the stock hasn’t been held for a year, then it is taxed at the same rate as income would be, depending on the seller’s tax bracket.
Tesla is currently valued at over a trillion dollars and Musk’s net worth is estimated to be $271.8 billion. Through Musk’s sale of $7 billion worth of Tesla stock, he will likely be taxed at either 20%, if they’re long-term capital gains, or 37% if they’re short-term capital gains.
Even with Musk’s massive sell-off of stock, it’s probable that Sanders will point out that Musk still is not paying his fair share. Musk might have forgotten that Sanders is “still alive,” but if a 'billionaires tax' is passed, Musk will remember his existence in a hurry.
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