Elon Musk, the richest man in the world and self-proclaimed "Emperor of Mars", has expressed some pretty brutal criticisms of a new bill proposed by US Democrats, aimed at taxing America’s richest individuals to fund healthcare, child care, and to fight climate change. Currently atop a staggering pile of riches to the tune of almost $275 billion, Musk has lashed out at the proposed 23.8 percent tax rate on all assets, stating the bill will not adequately fund President Joe Biden’s "Build Back Better" scheme and will slow Musk’s ultimate goal of placing humans on Mars.
Of course, Musk would not be the only one impacted, but he has certainly shouted the loudest. The wealthiest 0.0005 percent of Americans would be targeted, including anyone that either earned an income of $100 million a year for three straight years or has over $1 billion in assets, in what is thought to be a more balanced approach to taxing the wealthy. This works out that about 700 people in the US would see an increase in tax on their wealth. The real kicker is the way in which the tax is calculated – billionaires would need to pay 23.8 percent tax on all capital gains from tradeable assets. This would mean each year the billionaires would get taxed based on the market value of their assets, a significant change to the tax system.
Previously, total tax was calculated from when assets are sold, resulting in many wealthy people paying little-to-no taxes while investments continue to accrue profit. The White House released a report last year stating that billionaires pay an average of just 8.2 percent income tax, a stark contrast to the 37 percent marginal income tax at the top of the average American’s tax bracket.
As the Washington Post reports, the tax rewrite would result in Musk, Jeff Bezos, and others paying substantial sums. Over the first five years, Musk, who recently blew past Bezos to take the top spot on the rich list, would pay as much as $50 billion in tax, while Bezos would pay around $44 billion, making it rather obvious why the Twitter tirade has begun.
According to Elon Musk’s Twitter, the money could be better spent by him. When faced with the potential losses, Musk replied he intended to use it to "take humanity to Mars" and to "preserve the light of human consciousness" (whatever that means).
The bill has been met with opinions from both sides, with some believing it was high time that billionaires paid their fair share, while others state the tax will not cover the necessary funds and the wealthy’s philanthropic ventures are sacrifice enough.