Musk to sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock, company shares fall

Tesla CEO and wealthiest person in the world Elon Musk tweeted out a poll Saturday, asking his Twitter followers whether he should sell 10 percent of his stock in the automaker, in order to pay more tax.

When the poll closed Sunday afternoon, 57.9 percent of more than 3.5 million participants had voted “yes,” and 42.1 percent voted “no.”

“Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10 percent of my Tesla stock,” Musk wrote in a tweet referring to a “billionaires’ tax” proposed by Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

Musk tweeted that he would abide by the results of the poll, which received more than 700,000 responses in one hour since he posted it, with nearly 56 percent of respondents approving the proposal to sell the shares.

As such, Tesla Inc shares fell 7.5 percent in premarket trading on Monday as investors prepared for the sale of about a tenth of the company holdings in the electric-car maker.

This tweet was not the first time when Musk has floated the idea of selling off some Tesla stock. He also said in September that he planned to sell a big portion of his Tesla stock options before they expired.

“I have a bunch of [stock] options that are expiring early next year, so that’s a huge block of options we’ll sell in Q4,” he said.

Musk had been a critic of a proposal to tax unrealized gains on publicly traded assets for some of the wealthiest Americans.

Under the proposal by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), if assets increased in value, even if the person didn’t sell the assets, the person would have to pay taxes on the unrealized gain. It would basically end the tax loophole that lets billionaires defer capital gains taxes indefinitely, while still being able to borrow against that wealth.

“Eventually, they run out of other people’s money and then they come for you,” Musk tweeted in October, in response to a tweet expressing concerns about the proposal.

Tesla board members including Elon Musk’s mother, Kimbal, have recently sold shares of the electric carmaker. Kimbal Musk sold 88,500 Tesla shares while fellow board member Ira Ehrenpreis sold shares worth more than $200 million.