Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest person, spent much of his weekend sparring with US Senator Bernie Sanders on Twitter, after Sanders repeated his call for the ultra-rich to pay more tax.
Musk even raised the notion of selling more of his Tesla shares, which would require him to pay taxes on the gains.
On Saturday, the 80-year-old Sanders, who unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination of the US Democratic Party, wrote on Twitter: “We must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share.”
Musk, whose US$286 billion fortune has made him a target for those who support a wealth tax, responded: “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive.”
In a Twitter post early on Sunday, the chief executive officer of Tesla and SpaceX, asked: “Want me to sell more stock, Bernie? Just say the word.”
‘NOT A MAKER’
Eleven hours later, Musk was still firing off posts on Twitter, saying that Sanders “is a taker, not a maker.”
Musk offloaded nearly US$7 billion of Tesla stock over the past week, which helped to push the automaker’s shares down about 15 percent for the week.
Musk’s stock sales began after he posted an unusual poll on Twitter on Monday last week asking whether he should sell.
The poll was controversial for a host of reasons. For one, some of Musk’s transactions were carried out under a trading plan he had arranged in September, well before he consulted social media.
Musk also cast his proposal as having to do with the debate raging in the US over whether billionaires are paying enough in taxes, and whether levies should be placed on unrealized capital gains.
Musk did not mention in his prior posts on Twitter that he had millions of stock options that must be exercised before they expire in August next year.
In September, he said that he was likely to exercise “a huge block” of those options toward the end of this year.
Last month, Musk said that Tesla would move its headquarters from California to Austin, Texas, a state which levies no income tax.
On Saturday, Musk wrote on Twitter that he has been living in a small home in southern Texas for the past two years.
“Feels more homey to live in a small house,” he wrote.
Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats, chairs the US Senate Committee on the Budget and has long advocated for the wealthy to pay more taxes.
Sanders wrote on Twitter in March that the amount of wealth that Musk and Amazon.com cofounder Jeff Bezos had accumulated was “immoral.”
Musk has also chided US Senator Ron Wyden, who had pushed for a wealth tax on billionaires.
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