Elon Musk lets Twitter fans decide if he should flog £18.5bn of Tesla stock

Elon Musk, the world's richest man, is letting his Twitter followers decide whether he sells an eye-watering $25 billion (£18.5 billion) worth of his Tesla stock.

The decision comes amid debate online that unrealised gains – profit made on an investment which is yet to be sold – could be a form of tax avoidance following a ProPublica report published in June into how the wealthiest people avoid taxes.

The US government does not impose tax on stocks or securities until they are sold, which is when profits are realised.

Musk created a Twitter poll yesterday evening and wrote: "Much is made lately of unrealised gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock. Do you support this?

"I will abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes.

"Note, I do not take a cash salary or bonus from anywhere. I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock."

According to Yahoo Finance Tesla is worth around $1.22 trillion (£0.9 trillion). Musk, the company's CEO, currently owns just over 20% of its shares.

The poll has now concluded. After 3,519,252 votes, 57.9% of people were in favour of the sale and 42.1% against it.

Many were critical of Musk's tweet and accused the multi-billionaire of market manipulation.

On more than one occasion before his tweets have had huge financial ramifications. For example, earlier this year he crashed the value of Bitcoin by roughly 10% when he announced that Tesla would no longer accept the cryptocurrency as a form of payment.

One Twitter user replied to yesterday's tweet: "Stop manipulating the stock market with your fame and do something prosocial with your wealth."

Another added: "You do realise that Tesla stock will now tank on Monday because of this, thus ending the awesome run the stock has made the last month.

"Posts like this is taking money out of the pockets of the people who have believed in you and your company the most."

"Why not just sell a small % of your stock each year like many CEOs? Why 10% in one go?" chimed a third.

The value of Tesla stock dipped slightly after the poll was created.

Musk has since replied to one of his followers asking about the result by saying: "I was prepared to accept either outcome."

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