Senator behind billionaire tax slams Elon Musk’s Twitter poll stunt | American taxation


After Elon Musk asked his Twitter followers to vote on whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla shares, the architect of the billionaire tax proposal behind the decision dismissed the tweet as a waterfall.

“Whether or not the richest man in the world pays taxes shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll,” said Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “It’s billionaire income tax time.”

By the time polls closed on Sunday, nearly 3.5 million people had voted: 58% said Musk should sell Tesla shares and 42% said he shouldn’t.

Invited to comment, he tweeted“I was ready to accept either outcome.”

Musk, who also owns SpaceX, was named by Forbes magazine as the first person worth over $300 billion. Reuters calculated that selling its 10% stake in Tesla would bring in nearly $21 billion.

Wyden led Democrats to push for billionaires to pay taxes when stock prices rise even if they don’t sell shares, a concept called “unrealized gains.”

Proponents of the tax say it would affect about 700 super-wealthy Americans, helping pay for Joe Biden’s $1.75 billion 10-year public spending proposal to boost health and social care and fund initiatives to address the climate crisis.

Unveiling his proposal last month, Wyden said: “There are two tax codes in America. The first is mandatory for workers who pay taxes on every paycheque. The second is voluntary for billionaires who defer paying taxes for years or even indefinitely.

“The billionaire income tax would ensure that billionaires pay taxes every year, just like working Americans. No working American thinks it’s right to pay their taxes and billionaires don’t.”

Musk has a history of controversial behavior on Twitter. Responding to Wyden’s initial proposal, he tweeted: “Eventually, they no longer have the other people’s money and then they come to get you.”

On Saturday he said: “There’s been a lot of talk lately about unrealized gains as a means of tax avoidance, so I’m offering to sell 10% of my Tesla stock. Do you support that?

“I will respect the results of this poll, however it goes. Note that I do not take any cash salaries or bonuses from anywhere. I only own stocks, so the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stocks.

In a response, Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman tweeted“I look forward to the day when the richest tax-paying person in the world no longer depends on a Twitter poll.

When Wyden presented his billionaire tax proposal, Chuck Marr of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan think tank, used the example of Jeff Bezos, with Musk a contender for the title of wealthiest person. of the world, for Explain how the proposal would work.

The Amazon founder, Marr said, would contribute to the feds based on unrealized earnings from his stock holdings, worth about $10 billion, rather than a reported salary of about $80 000 dollars.

Citing a bombshell ProPublica report from June of this year that showed how little Bezos, Musk and other super-rich Americans are paying into federal coffers, Marr titled his analysis, “Why a Billionaire Tax Makes Sense — or why the richest people in the country should pay income taxes as if they were the richest people in the country.

The Biden spending plan that Wyden wants to help fund, known as Build Back Better, remains stuck in Congress. Centrists in the House demand a nonpartisan analysis of its costs while centrist senators remain opposed to many of its goals.

Democrats are also split on the proposed billionaire tax. Among the opponents is Joe Manchin, the senator from West Virginia who, along with Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, is obstructing Build Back Better, wielding enormous power in a chamber divided 50-50 and therefore controlled by the casting vote of the Vice President Kamala Harris. .

Speaking to reporters in October, Manchin said, “Everyone in this country that has been blessed and prospered should pay a patriotic tax.

“If you’re at the point where you can use all the tax forms to your advantage, and you end up with zero tax liability but you’ve had a very, very good life and you’ve had a lot of opportunities, it should be a 15% patriotic tax”.

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