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Elon Musk to Bernie Sanders after taxing the rich tweet: "I keep forgetting that you're still alive"

World leaders endorse global corporate tax
World leaders endorse global corporate tax 02:40

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is renewing calls for higher taxes on the wealthy, tweeting on Saturday that "We must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share. Period." 

On Sunday, Elon Musk — the world's richest person — fired back: "I keep forgetting that you're still alive."

Musk, whose wealth is tied up in shares of Tesla, added, "Want me to sell more stock, Bernie? Just say the word …"

Shares of Tesla fell 2.1% to $1,012 in early trading on Monday.

The snarky responses from Musk come amid an ongoing debate over tax rates and the soaring wealth of the nation's richest citizens. Democrats had considered a new tax on billionaires that would help fund President Joe Biden's proposed $3.2 trillion social spending package, which has since been pared down to $1.75 billion. Although it's considered unlikely that the billionaires tax would move forward, it would only impact about 700 people, including Elon Musk. 

The collective net worth of America's billionaires has surged by $2 trillion during the pandemic, bolstered by a surge in stock prices and other assets, according to Americans for Tax Fairness, a left-leaning advocacy group. The assets of the bottom 20% of households has grown by just 1% during the health crisis, according to a new analysis from Oxford Economics. 

Musk stock sale

Musk recently sold more than $5 billion worth of Tesla stock, amounting to about 3% of his stake in the company. About $1.1 billion will go toward paying tax obligations for stock options granted to the entrepreneur in September. After the transactions, Musk still owns about 167 million Tesla shares.

Earlier this month, Musk briefly became the first person on the planet to be worth more than $300 billion, thanks to a surge in Tesla's stock price. The shares have since declined from that peak, partly on news of Musk's stock sales.

Democrats consider taxing billionaires 06:13

At that valuation, Musk's wealth was greater than the annual GDP of nations such as Finland, Chile and Vietnam, and also exceeded the market value of Netflix and PayPal, a company he co-founded. 

Under the Democrats' billionaires tax plan, Musk would be liable for perhaps a one-time $50 billion tax hit under the Democratic proposal. He voiced his displeasure with the proposed tax last month, noting that he had other plans for his money. 

"My plan," the SpaceX founder tweeted in October about his fortune, "is to use the money to get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness."

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