Elon Musk donated roughly $5.7 billion worth of Tesla Inc. shares to charity last year, according to a securities filing Monday, making him by at least one measure one of last year’s top philanthropic donors.
The filing doesn’t name recipients for the 5,044,000 Tesla shares that Mr. Musk reported donating over the course of more than a week in November. Mr. Musk, Tesla’s chief executive and the world’s wealthiest person, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The donations were made in the middle of a series of stock sales by Mr. Musk, who sold more than $16 billion worth of Tesla shares in the past two months of 2021. The Tesla chief executive, who is compensated in stock awards and doesn’t accept a cash salary from the electric-vehicle maker, also converted roughly 22.9 million vested stock options into shares last year.
Such activity likely triggered a hefty 2021 tax bill that charitable giving could help offset. Donations of appreciated stock are particularly attractive for wealthy people. The forgone capital gains aren’t taxed. The value of the stock is a charitable deduction, subject to limits. And the stock comes out of the person’s taxable estate.
Mr. Musk estimated in December, weeks after the November donations, that he would pay more than $11 billion in 2021 taxes.
The Internal Revenue Service values stock gifts based on the average of a stock’s high and low on the day of a reported transaction. Mr. Musk’s donations disclosed Monday would be worth roughly $5.7 billion based on that methodology.
Tesla’s stock, which was trading above $1,060 at the time of Mr. Musk’s donations, closed Monday at $875.76.
According to a list of the top charitable givers last year in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Mr. Musk’s November donations would make him the second-biggest donor of 2021. Only Bill and Melinda French Gates donated more, according to the magazine, having given an estimated $15 billion.
Mr. Musk signed the Giving Pledge in 2012, committing to donating the majority of his wealth to charitable causes.
Some of Mr. Musk’s philanthropic endeavors have remained behind closed doors. He established the Musk Foundation in 2002. According to the foundation’s website, grants are given to groups that support causes including research on renewable energy and human space exploration. In 2015, he was part of a group of Silicon Valley investors who collectively committed $1 billion to ensure that artificial intelligence serves societal needs rather than commercial interests.
While the exact dollar figure that Mr. Musk has donated to charity is unknown, at times he has volunteered information on social media.
In March, Mr. Musk tweeted that he was donating $20 million to schools in a Texas county and $10 million to a Texas city for downtown revitalization.
And in 2018, Mr. Musk tweeted that he had sold more than $100 million in Tesla stock for charity.
Last year, he waded into a debate over how some of the wealthiest Americans should be taxed and challenged a humanitarian organization over a request for charitable donations.
In October, after the executive director of the United Nations’ World Food Program called on billionaires to help address global hunger, Mr. Musk tweeted that he would sell Tesla stock if the organization described how $6 billion would solve world hunger.
A spokesman for the World Food Program declined to comment on whether Mr. Musk donated shares to the organization.