Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Picture: REUTERS
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Picture: REUTERS

Elon Musk plans to use his money to “get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness” as Democrats consider a billionaires’ tax for the wealthiest Americans that could hit him hardest of all.

The Tesla CEO was responding to a tweet by Washington Post reporter Christian Davenport, who said that Musk and Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’s tax bills under the proposed plan — as much as $50bn and $44bn over the first five years — could pay for a mission to Mars. 

Bezos and Musk have a combined net worth approaching $500bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The tax plan promoted by some congressional Democrats explicitly targets appreciating public shareholdings, which have been a main driver of billionaires’ steep wealth gains in recent years.

Musk, the world’s richest person with a current net worth of about $292bn, has been particularly vocal on Twitter against the billionaires’ tax. He argued in an earlier tweet that spending is the real problem and that taxing all billionaires at 100% would only make a “small dent” in the US national debt. 

In another tweet, he said that the unrealised capital gains tax proposal targeted at billionaires could eventually be widened to the middle class. 

“Eventually, they run out of other people’s money and then they come for you,” he said.

Democrats are targeting tax increases on the highest earners as options to offset the cost of President Joe Biden’s social-spending bill that could approach $2-trillion and enact many of the party’s long-time goals. Yet they haven’t agreed on how to do it, one of many issues the party is struggling to agree on as talks continue.

The so-called billionaires’ tax plan from Senator Ron Wyden and others would target a narrow slice of the super-rich — those with at least $1bn in assets or income of $100m for three consecutive years — and force them to pay an annual tax on unrealised gains for publicly traded assets like stocks. 

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal said there isn’t support for it to get through Congress. He said the House is instead negotiating with the Senate to include a further 3% surtax on top of the highest income rate, for those earning more than $10m a year.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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