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Guess Who's Not Keen on Dems' Billionaire Tax Plan?

Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk could see $5B in taxes over 5 years if the plan were put in place
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2021 8:42 AM CDT
Guess Who's Not Keen on Dems' Billionaire Tax Plan?
In this March 14, 2019, file photo, Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at the company's design studio in Hawthorne, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(Newser) – Under a new proposal unveiled by Democrats this week, America's richest of the rich would soon be helping to pay for President Biden's domestic agenda by paying taxes on unrealized gains on assets like stocks in their portfolio, whether or not they sell them. It was expected there'd be pushback on the plan—which would affect only those with more than $1 billion in assets, or who've made more than $100 million for three years straight—and one of those targeted by the proposal is already speaking out.

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"Eventually, they run out of other people's money and then they come for you," Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted Monday, per Insider. Musk's post was in response to another person's tweet asserting that the plan set up by Sen. Ron Wyden would "start with billionaires, then eventually millionaires, then the modest investments will get hit possibly within a decade." In other words, per that commenter, the proposal "takes new tax hikes a step closer to imposing unrealized capital gains tax on the average investor."

The New York Times notes the proposed legislation—which would apply to about 700 billionaires across the country—would levy the current 23.8% capital gains tax on the rise in value of tradable assets like cash, stocks, and bonds, using those assets' original price as the gauge. For individuals like Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, that would translate to a huge bite out of their wallets, as the stock they've amassed was initially worth nothing. Musk would be on the hook for around $50 billion over the first five years of the plan, while Bezos would have to pony up about $44 billion, per an analysis from a University of California-Berkeley economist cited by the Washington Post.

In a separate tweet, Musk suggested that wealth redistribution might be best left to "entrepreneurs," not the government. "The tricksters will conflate capital allocation with consumption," he noted. Although Musk's comments were made under the guise of protecting the common man fighting The Man, Wyden had a different take. "The people who are clearly trying to be tricky are people who are trying to find a way to not pay taxes," the senator told reporters Tuesday, in a clear swipe at Musk, per Insider. (Read more billionaires stories.)

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