Billionaire Elon Musk, who was just named Time Magazine's 'Person of the Year,' is a fervent user of Twitter and quick to respond to criticisms from politicians about his vast wealth. Specifically, several Congressional Democrats have addressed him directly or have made an example of him when tweeting about billionaires who aren't paying their fair share of taxes.
Musk is not one to ignore criticism and has engaged in several recent Twitter feuds with Senators Ron Wyden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
The debate about tax laws has escalated in recent months when Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced legislation for a “billionaires income tax” to help pay for President Biden’s budget.
An exchange between Musk and Wyden ensued and resulted in Musk posting a Twitter poll as to whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock.
In November, Musk began sparring with Bernie Sanders after the Vermont Senator who is the current chairman of the Senate Budget Committee tweeted that "we must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share.”
Musk responded with an insult and another reference to selling Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report stock, “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive,” Musk tweeted to the 80-year-old senator. In a subsequent tweet, Musk asked: “Want me to sell more stock, Bernie? Just say the word.”
Since then, Musk turned to sparring with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren who blasted the tax code as being rigged and asked that it be changed while referencing the 'Person of the Year'.
Many ultra-rich CEOs and founders are not paid a salary but are instead compensated via stock options, capital gains, etc. which is only taxed when the stock is sold. It is reported that Musk paid no federal income tax in 2018 but will potentially pay between $9 billion and $10 billion this year if he exercises soon-to-expire stock options.