President Biden’s Saturday tweet suggesting average billionaires do not pay their “fair share” of taxes was quickly challenged by fellow Twitter users and by Twitter’s CEO, Elon Musk.
“Look, I think you should be able to be a billionaire if you can earn it, but just pay your fair share,” Biden tweeted Saturday.
“I think you ought to pay a minimum of 25%. It’s about basic fairness,” the tweet concluded.
Biden included a graphic containing a paraphrased message delivered during the State of the Union address February 7.
“No billionaire should be paying a lower tax than somebody working as a schoolteacher or firefighter,” the graphic said, adding that “average billionaires” pay three percent.
Elon Musk, the billionaire who owns Twitter and Tesla, responded to Biden’s tweet with a personal fact check.
“I paid 53% taxes on my Tesla stock options (40% Federal & 13% state), so I must be lifting the average!” Musk tweeted, in part.
“I also paid more income tax than anyone ever in the history of Earth for 2021 and will do that again in 2022,” Musk also wrote.
Musk wrapped the tweet by tagging @CommunityNotes inquiring about the accuracy of the 3% figure Biden cited.
In 2021, Elon Musk tweeted that he would pay more than $11 billion in taxes for the year.
In a second tweet Saturday, Musk said he agreed “everyone should pay taxes and not engage in elaborate tax-avoidance schemes.” He then joked about how other “billionaires” are “good at avoiding taxes” and said “we should get rid of GRATs, but maybe other things, too.”
GRATs are Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts. A GRAT is a “financial instrument used in estate planning to minimize taxes on large financial gifts to family members,” according to Investopedia.
Biden’s tweet, which garnered 14.7 million views as of Sunday morning, now sports a “Community Note” which assesses the tweet as “inaccurate.”
Twitter’s Community Notes feature “aims to create a better-informed world, by empowering people on Twitter to collaboratively add helpful notes to Tweets that might be misleading,” according to the social media platform’s description.
The Community Note includes links to three fact-checking sources that essentially debunk the figures Biden provided.
“This claim has been repeatedly assessed as inaccurate. It relies on a theoretical calculation that treats unrealized capital gains (increase in the value of unsold stocks) as income even though current tax law does not. (Taxes occur once stocks are sold for profit.),” the Community Note says.
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