After a war of words with Senator Elizabeth Warren over the payment of taxes and proposed changes to the tax code, billionaire Elon Musk, currently the world’s richest man, has announced on Twitter that he will pay over $11 billion in taxes in 2021, a figure that could be the highest-ever in US history.
Musk, who is currently worth a whopping $244 billion according to Forbes, got into an online altercation with the Senator last week after he was named the Person of the Year for 2021 by TIME Magazine. The billionaire’s selection evidently did not amuse the Senator, who sarcastically tweeted, “Let’s change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else.”
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Senator Warren’s tweet did not go down well with Musk, who mockingly called her “Karen” and suggested that she was behaving like “an angry mom.” Musk’s comments, in turn, prompted MSNBC’s star host, Joy Reid, to enter the spat, which resulted in another unsavoury exchange. While Reid was quick to accuse the Tesla and SpaceX founder of “misappropriating black vernacular” for his misogynist ends, Musk retorted by calling the television host “(Lack of) Joy Reid” and accused her of being a “lobbyist” for Senator ‘Karen’ Warren in a tweet.
Musk’s spat with Senator Warren comes at a time when progressives in the Congress are pushing for reforms to the tax code to ensure that tech moguls such as Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg pay an appropriate share of taxes. In March 2021, Warren and her colleagues introduced the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act that, if passed, would see an annual 2% tax levied on households with incomes above $50 million, and 3% on households with incomes above $1 billion.
As if anticipating this change, Musk, in November, sold off 10% of his Tesla stock, worth $14 billion, at the behest of Twitter users. Observers noted that Musk anyway would have had to pay taxes on his stock options that are set to expire in August 2022, and may have avoided higher taxes by exercising his stock options before the Biden administration enacts changes to the tax code.
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Regardless, if Musk ends up paying the $11+ billion in taxes that he claims he is going to pay, he just might live up to his promise to Senator Warren that he would “pay more taxes than any American in history.”