Taxes aren’t the one purpose Elon Musk is promoting Tesla inventory

Elon Musk’s sales of Tesla Stock last week came as little surprise to those who followed its history potential tax burden of $ 10 billion to $ 15 billion on stock options granted in 2012. However, according to accountants, most of his sales don’t appear to be tax-related – which could mean he’ll be offloading far more shares than expected.

The options on Musk’s 23 million shares expire in August, which is the deadline for filing taxes with California and the Internal Revenue Service. Musk began exercising the options on November 8th. He exercised $ 2.5 billion in stocks and sold $ 1.1 billion of those exercised options to pay taxes.

“The common stock was sold solely to meet the tax withholding obligations of the reporter in connection with the exercise of stock options,” said a footnote from its Securities and Exchange Commission submission for November 8th.

On Monday, Musk sold an additional $ 930 million in shares to pay taxes on options he exercised on 2.1 million shares. This brings his total option exercise to approximately $ 4.6 billion and his shares sold to meet tax withholding obligations to $ 2 billion.

Most of the sales over the past week, however, were for another reason. Instead of selling by exercising an option, Musk began selling his existing shares. Auditors said it would be impractical for Musk to use these existing stocks to pay the tax on his options because they carry a much higher tax burden.

Musk’s options are taxed as normal income as they are considered compensation. The combined state and California rates could be up to 54%. The exercise price of the options is $ 6.24 per share, and Tesla’s share price was over $ 1,160 per share on Monday, so he would pay higher taxes – more than $ 10 billion on his earnings of over $ 20 billion U.S. dollar.

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Typically, executives sell the exercised stock immediately after purchase to pay taxes in what is known as the “cashless” exercise. Since the shares are sold immediately, there is no additional capital gains tax on the shares sold.

Since Musk’s sales were pure stock sales with little or no cost base as of Nov. 9, he would owe long-term capital gains taxes of up to $ 1.3 billion. Using these proceeds to pay option tax would amount to paying taxes twice – once on capital gains and once on options.

“It would not make sense for him to use this income for the option tax from a tax perspective,” said Toby Johnston, partner in charge of the Silicon Valley office of Moss Adams, an accounting, advisory and wealth management firm.

Musk acknowledged that the regular stocks are less tax efficient than selling the option stocks. “An attentive observer would find that my share sales rate (low base) significantly exceeds my option exercise rate of 10 billion (high base), closer to tax maximization than minimization,” he tweeted on Sunday.

Given the relatively high tax cost, why is Musk selling the non-option stocks? Tax experts and Tesla analysts say he will exercise the options before August, as their expiry would leave billions on the table, along with additional ownership of the company even after taxes are paid. That means he has billions left to exercise and billions to sell to pay taxes.

The $ 5.7 billion and any additional non-option stocks he sells are direct payouts. While he owes state capital gains taxes on the sales, he likely does not need to pay state taxes on the profits since he is likely now a Texas tax resident. However, the same rule does not apply to his option taxes as these are considered employee benefits and were earned during his stay in California.

Accountants say the sales are likely not to charity as he would have simply donated valued stocks instead of selling and paying a capital gains tax first. He could use the proceeds for Space X, its privately held space company, or for another private company. Or he might just want to take money off the table after years of being stock rich, cashless and borrowing his stock price to fund his lifestyle. Federal taxes are also likely to rise next year, which creates an additional incentive if he’s already thinking about a payout.

Whatever the reasons, Musk will likely end up selling way more than the $ 10 billion to $ 15 billion he needs in taxes. He conducted a Twitter poll on November 6th in which he asked his followers to sell 10% of his shares and said he would stick to the results. When he voted, 58% of respondents said he should sell 10% of his stock, which could add up to over $ 20 billion in sales.

“Taxes aren’t always the main driver behind investment decisions for people his level,” said Johnston. “It still feels like the puzzle is missing a piece that we may not know about.”

Elon Musk faces a $15 billion tax invoice, which is probably going the true motive he is promoting inventory

Tesla boss Elon Musk visiting the construction site of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, 13 August 2021.

Patrick Pleul | Reuters

Tesla CEO Elon Musk faced a tax burden of more than $ 15 billion on stock options in the coming months, making a sale of its Tesla stock likely this year regardless of the Twitter vote.

Musk asked his 62.7 million Twitter followers over the weekend to sell 10% of his Tesla inventory. “A lot has been done lately with unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I suggest selling 10% of my Tesla stock,” he tweeted.

The Tesla boss said he would “stick to the results of this survey, no matter which direction it goes.” The results were 58% for the sell and 42% against, suggesting he will sell the shares.

Regardless of the poll results, Musk would likely have started selling millions of shares this quarter. The reason: an impending tax bill of more than 15 billion dollars.

Musk were granted options under a compensation plan in 2012. Since he does not receive any salary or cash bonus, his fortune comes from stock bonuses and the price gains from Tesla. The 2012 grant was for 22.8 million shares at an exercise price of $ 6.24 per share. Tesla stock closed at $ 1,222.09 on Friday, which means its earnings from the stock are close to $ 28 billion.

The company also recently announced that Musk has taken out loans with its shares as collateral, and with the sales, Musk may be looking to repay some of those loan obligations.

As Tesla noted in its 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the third quarter this year, “If our common stock drops significantly, Mr. Musk could be forced by one or more banking institutions to sell. to sell Tesla common stock to meet his loan obligations when he couldn’t do it another way. Such sales could cause the price of our common stock to decline further. “

The options expire in August next year. However, in order to exercise them, Musk must pay income tax on profits. Since the options are taxed as benefit or compensation to employees, they are taxed on the highest ordinary income, or 37% plus the net investment tax of 3.8%. He will also have to pay the highest California tax rate of 13.3% as the options were granted and largely earned while he was taxable in California.

The combined state and federal tax rate is 54.1%. So the total tax burden on his options would be $ 15 billion at the current price.

Musk has not confirmed the size of the tax bill. But he tweeted, “Note that I don’t get any cash or bonus anywhere. I only have stocks, so I can personally pay taxes by selling stocks.”

With CEOs having limited windows to sell stocks and Musk likely looking to stagger sales over at least two quarters, analysts and tax experts expect Musk to begin selling in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Speaking at the Code conference in September, Musk said, “I have a number of options that expire early next year, so … a huge chunk of options will be sold in the fourth quarter – because I have to or they will expire.”

Musk could of course borrow more against his Tesla stock, which is now over $ 200 billion. Still, he has already pledged 92 million shares to lenders to raise cash. When asked at the Code conference about borrowing from such volatile stocks, he said, “Stocks don’t always go up, they go down.”

Musk is still collecting options beyond those granted over Tesla’s 2012 salary package. In March 2018, Tesla’s Board of Directors presented him with an unprecedented “CEO Performance Award” consisting of 101.3 million stock options (adjusted for the 5-for-1 share split in 2020) in 12 milestone-based tranches.

– CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.

Elon Musk takes photographs at Biden, SEC anti-nuclear sentiment at Code

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, stands in the foundry of the Tesla Gigafactory during a press event. Year.

Patrick Pleul | Image Alliance | Image Alliance | Getty Images

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday criticized President Joe Biden for saying his administration was “biased” against Tesla, saying that during a speech on stage at the Code Conference in Beverly Hills, California, unions “ seems to be controlled.

Musk also, in his typically disrespectful form, reiterated several of his previous taunts against state financial regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission, reiterating his support for cryptocurrency and nuclear power, and saying he was there despite the recent antitrust and cryptocurrency attacks.

Beef with biden

Code host and Recode editor Kara Swisher asked Musk to explain the recent tweets he made rebuked President Joe Biden.

Musk sighed. “You know, Biden held this EV summit – didn’t invite Tesla. Invited by GM, Ford, Chrysler and UAW. “

“Does that sound a little biased or something? And you know, just – it’s not the friendliest administration. Seems to be controlled by unions, as far as I can tell. “

Swisher asked him if he was waiting to get former President Donald Trump back or to become president himself, and he said no in both cases.

About taxes

Swisher asked Musk, who is currently the richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg – To respond to criticism that while his companies have received many government contracts and subsidies, the CEO has avoided paying some taxes personally in the US through creative, albeit legal, accounting practices.

In June, investigative news site ProPublica reported on Musk’s tax bill as part of a massive analysis of billionaires’ finances. They found that Musk’s income tax bill was zero in 2018.

Musk insulted ProPublica’s coverage, calling it “tricky” and “misleading”.

Then he said the number was so small because he wasn’t getting a salary, so his cash compensation was basically zero. Instead, Musk borrows money in exchange for stock options that vest over time.

Since he had accumulated more and more shares in Tesla and SpaceX, he had “not really bothered” to take money off the table by selling a stake. The success of SpaceX and Tesla is far from certain, said Musk. “You have gone bankrupt many times. But I never tried to take money off the table.

The publicly traded Tesla has never notified shareholders that it was on the verge of bankruptcy.

When Musk’s stock options expire at Tesla, its marginal tax rate will be over 50%, the CEO said. “I have a number of options that expire early next year, so … a huge block of options will be sold in the fourth quarter – because I have to, or they will expire.”

“So are you going to pay a lot of taxes at some point?” said Swisher.

“Massive, yes,” said Musk. “Basically, a lot of what I sell will be taxes.”

He said critics might believe wealthy people borrowing against their stocks are “a ploy to get away from paying taxes”. But, he said, this is not uncommon and can be a risky move. “Borrowing for stocks is kind of fun and game until you get into a recession and hit the margin calls and then go to zero, which basically happens every time a recession hits.”

“I definitely put on the record and said that I think our stock price is too high in my opinion, and that hasn’t stopped the stock price from rising,” he said. “So … I don’t know – what should I do, you know? The audience laughed.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that my actual tax rate is 53%. They’re trying to make it look like I’m paying very low taxes, but the reality is that my taxes are very high. … be paid out in the next three months due to options expiring, “he said.

When asked for comment by CNBC, ProPublica responded with the following statement from Editor-in-Chief Stephen Engelberg:

“Elon Musk’s remarks confirm the veracity of our reporting, which disclosed that he did not pay federal income taxes in 2018. As we have highlighted in our story, Musk has supported his lifestyle by borrowing money against his stock holdings, a textbook example for the known strategy. ” as ‘buy, borrow and die.’ We have pointed out in our history that his tax payments to the government over the past few years were only a tiny fraction of his multi-billion dollar asset appreciation. “

ProPublica sent Musk detailed questions before releasing her June story and he didn’t answer. At Tuesday’s conference, Musk said ProPublica was “not interested” in the truth about its finances.

“We remain interested in his comments on the US tax system or his own strategies to minimize his tax obligations,” Engelberg said on Wednesday.

On twitter

Swisher also asked Musk about his extensive and sometimes combative use of Twitter. “Go over us if you decide to tweet,” she said.

Musk answered Swisher in a sarcastic tone.

“Well, I think about it for hours. And I consult my strategy team,” he said, laughing with the audience. “Or maybe I’m exhausted and then brrrr-psshht! Path! Let me shoot me in the foot, bam! Now let me shoot me in the foot, bam! That describes some of my tweets. “

In 2018, the SEC sued Tesla and Musk for securities fraud after the CEO wrote on Twitter that he was considering making Tesla private for $ 420 per share and securing funding.

They eventually settled that lawsuit, with Musk and Tesla each paying a $ 20 million fine to federal agencies and Musk relinquishing his role as Tesla’s CEO. Musk also agreed to have his tweets reviewed by a compliance officer at Tesla before posting them if they contained material company information.

“Are you concerned about potential SEC involvement in your tweets?” asked Swisher.

Musk said, “What does that mean again? I know the middle word is ‘Elon’, but I can’t remember the other two words.”

She asked him to answer seriously. “Are you afraid they’ll say, ‘Elon, stop … tweeting.'”

“You mean the Short Selling Enrichment Commission?” Musk asked.

Both comments were allusions to insults Musk made on Twitter in 2020 and 2018, respectively, to the financial regulator.

Crypto and China

Tesla made waves in February when it announced it had bought about Bitcoin worth $ 1.5 billion. After the stocks were announced, the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed. In May, when Musk said on Twitter that Tesla stop accepting bitcoins as payment for his electric cars the price of Bitcoin has fallen.

When Musk tweets a recommendation for a specific coin – like he did with Dogecoin – its price tends to rise, at least temporarily.

When Swisher asked about regulating cryptocurrencies, Musk said the SEC should pull out.

“Just let it fly” he suggested.

The People’s Bank of China recently made all cryptocurrency-related activities illegal. Swisher asked Musk if he had any concerns about working in China or if he was concerned about US-China relations.

After praising Tesla’s employees and the vehicle assembly plant in Shanghai, Musk said he was “not particularly” concerned about China right now. As the pandemic subsides and face-to-face meetings resume, “trust” in China with tech companies and overseas companies would “go in a more positive direction,” Musk predicted.

Musk said he believes China may not accept the cryptocurrency in part because of the electricity shortage there and the huge amount of electricity required to mine Bitcoin. However, he also said that cryptocurrency’s potential to diminish the power of centralized governments could make China suspicious.

When Swisher said that Musk alone could “change the shares” of the cryptocurrency more than China did, Musk admitted it. She asked him if that was a good thing. “If it goes up, I suppose,” he said.

Space and energy

Swisher and Musk discussed at length about SpaceX, its competitors, plans to expand the Starlink satellite Internet service, and ambitions to make humanity a “multi-planetary species”.

During their SpaceX discussion, Musk took the opportunity to mock the phallic shape of Blue Origin’s rocket and berate Jeff Bezos for his space travel Company litigation.

“Can you explain, from a technological point of view, why it is this shape?” asked Swisher.

The characteristically rough Musk said, “If you’re only flying suborbitally, your rocket can be a little shorter, yes.”

Musk has stated that he doesn’t actually speak to her Amazon Founder, instead sub-tweets him – meaning he tweets about Bezos without addressing him directly.

When asked about SpaceX creation Light pollution This affected the work of astronomers, Musk said: “We are working very hard to ensure that our satellites do not interfere with their telescopes.” SpaceX could launch some new telescopes with the Starship vehicle, he said, that would have 10 times the resolution of the Hubble. He said that only amateur astronomers are complaining about SpaceX today.

At the end of the session, an audience member asked if Musk was concerned that utility companies might be able to generate and transmit enough electricity to power electric vehicles as they become more popular.

Musk estimates that electricity needs will roughly double as the world switches from gas-powered to electric vehicles.

“This will create a lot of challenges with the grid,” he said. He said he sees the demand as “impracticable” unless significant local electricity generation in households is added by means such as residential solar products such as those sold by Tesla.

In addition to rooftop solar, he said we need to add “large, sustainable power generation developments, mostly wind and solar” to the grid and combine them with battery packs to offset the intermittent nature of renewable energy.

As a final thought, Musk added:

“I’m kind of in favor of nuclear power too. And I’m kind of surprised by the public opinion against nuclear power. I’m not saying that we should build a whole series of new nuclear power plants. But I don’t think we should.” You have that in Germany and had to build a number of coal-fired power plants, and I honestly think that wasn’t the right decision. “

Elon Musk pledges $50 million to Inspiration4 fundraiser for St. Jude

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk poses with the crew before the launch on September 15, 2021.

John Kraus / Inspiration4

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk helped meet the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Inspiration4 spaceflight fundraising goal just hours after his company brought the crew back from orbit.

The main goal of the Inspiration4 mission, which started on Wednesday and came down on Saturday, should raise $ 200 million for St. Jude.

Inspiration4 Commander Jared Isaacman, a billionaire entrepreneur who bought the flight from SpaceX, personally donated $ 100 million to St. Jude. The Inspiration4 mission raised an additional $ 60.2 million in donations before Musk pledged to contribute $ 50 million of his own – bringing the campaign total to more than $ 210 million.

“Count me in for $ 50 million,” Musk said in a tweet on Saturday.

The historic Inspiration4 mission with a private crew spent three days in space and carried Isaacman, pilot Sian Proctor, medical officer Hayley Arceneaux and mission specialist Chris Sembroski. The crew circled the earth at an altitude of 590 kilometers, which is above the International Space Station and which has traveled the furthest above the surface in years.

The space flight reached several milestones, including: the first private SpaceX space flight, the first fully non-professional crew to become astronauts, the first black female spaceship pilot, the youngest American astronaut to date, and the first person to fly in space with a prosthesis.

The Inspiration4 passengers pose in the crew access arm of Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From left: Commander Jared Isaacman, Medical Officer Hayley Arceneaux, Pilot Sian Proctor and Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski.

SpaceX

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Elon Musk reacts to Gov. Greg Abbott’s feedback

Elon Musk declined to comment directly on Texas’ abortion law Thursday after Governor Greg Abbott said so Tesla and the CEO of SpaceX supported his state’s “social policy” after the implementation of the strictly restrictive measure.

“In general, I believe the government should seldom impose its will on people while trying to maximize their cumulative happiness,” Musk told CNBC in a tweet.

“But I’d rather stay out of politics,” said Musk, whose companies and private foundations are expanding their businesses in Texas.

Abortion rights advocates and vendors say the law sets the precedent for abortion protection established under Roe v. Wade was set to effectively cancel. president Joe Biden and others in his administration, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, have vowed to take action after this The Supreme Court refused to block the law from going into effect.

Earlier on Thursday, Abbott told CNBC: “Screeching in the street“that the new law and other politically divisive laws on social issues will not make its state less attractive to companies or individuals.

“You need to understand that there are a lot of companies and a lot of Americans who like the social positions of the state of Texas,” Abbott said.

“This is not slowing down the companies coming into the state of Texas at all. In fact, it is speeding up the process of companies coming into Texas,” Abbott said.

He added that Musk “had to get out of California because of California’s welfare policy, and Elon keeps telling me that he likes Texas welfare policy.”

Musk personally moved to Texas from California last year, which could save him billions of dollars in taxes. He had not shared his thoughts on the Heartbeat Abortion Act, which also empowers private individuals to sue anyone who “aids” and “incites” most abortions.

Musk has shown little reluctance to meddle on political issues in the past.

For example, in early 2020, amid the early waves of the Coronavirus pandemic, Musk slapped government stay-at-home orders, calling them “fascist” in a swear word about Teslas Profit call for the first quarter of 2020.

Under his direction, Tesla he then filed and eventually withdrew a lawsuit against California’s Alameda County alleging that its health ordinances were against state policy on business closings.

CNBC policy

Read more about CNBC’s political coverage:

Last year, Musk donated to three Republican anti-abortion lawmakers and four Democratic lawmakers who support abortion law, giving $ 2,800 each, according to the Money-in-Politics tracker OpenSecrets.org.

Both Tesla and SpaceX have sizable operations in Texas. Tesla is currently building its second US auto plant outside of Austin. And SpaceX has been operating in the state since 2003.

Musk said on March 31 that the company will need to hire more than 10,000 people for the new Texas facility by 2022.

Tesla’s headquarters are currently still in Palo Alto, California, and Tesla operates its first U.S. auto assembly plant nearby in Fremont. But last May, Musk threatened to move these headquarters and future development to Texas and Nevada in protest of pandemic-related restrictions in the Golden State.

Musk says he helps crypto in battle with fiat cash

(This May 22 story corrects paragraph 6 to make it clear that Musk “Dogecoin” is a hustle and bustle, not Bitcoin.)

Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O) Board chairman Elon Musk tweeted on Saturday that he supports crypto in a battle between fiat and cryptocurrencies.

“The real battle is between Fiat and Crypto. All in all, I support the latter,” he said said on Twitter in response to a user who asked him what he thought of people who were angry with him about crypto.

Musk has previously compared Bitcoin to fiat money and tweeted frequently about cryptocurrencies that have sent values ​​up and down for Bitcoin and the meme digital currency Dogecoin.

In February, Bitcoin shot higher after Tesla announced it had bought $ 1.5 billion of the cryptocurrency and would soon accept it as payment for cars. Continue reading

Bitcoin plunged, however, after the billionaire announced in May that Tesla would no longer accept bitcoin for car purchases, citing long-standing environmental concerns over a rapid reversal of the company’s position on cryptocurrency. Continue reading

Earlier this month, he also dubbed Dogecoin a “hustle” during its guest-host spot on the comedy sketch TV show “Saturday Night Live,” which led to a drop in prices. Continue reading

Two days ago, Musk assured that he had not sold any of his Dogecoin holdings and would not sell any. https://bit.ly/3hLz6LN

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Elon Musk says bitcoin appears excessive after surpassing $1 trillion market cap

SpaceX Founder and Chief Engineer Elon Musk speaks during the Satellite 2020 conference on March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC, United States.

Yasin Ozturk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Tesla Chairman Elon Musk said on Saturday that Bitcoin prices “seem high” after the cryptocurrency rose to another record high this week.

The price of Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, passed a major milestone on Friday after its market value hit more than $ 1 trillion, surprising some big supporters. Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency, also hit record highs.

“Money is just data we can use to avoid the inconvenience of bartering,” tweeted Musk, a major advocate of digital currencies. “This data, like all data, is subject to latency and errors. The system will evolve to minimize both.”

In a subsequent post, Musk added, “that is, BTC & ETH seem high” in response to a user who said gold is better than bitcoin and cash.

Bitcoin was trading below $ 54,000 per coin on Friday as it hit the new level rose over $ 55,000 later in the sessionaccording to Coin Metrics. The cryptocurrency traded above $ 57,000 on Saturday. Bitcoin price has increased by around 350% in the past six months.

Ethereum also hit a record $ 2,040.62 for a weekly profit of around 12%. It was trading at $ 1,996 on Saturday.

The Bitcoin surge was partly due to increased adoption by major investors and corporations. Bank of New York Mellon said this month that it would pull into the room.

Tesla too At the beginning of this year, part of the balance sheet money was converted into Bitcoin and said it would start accepting digital currency as a means of payment, a move that sparked even more interest in the currency.

– CNBC’s Jesse Pound contributed to the coverage