Elon Musk's IRS tax bill could top $10B: report

The Tesla CEO is worth roughly $300 billion

The wealthiest man on the planet could soon be looking at owing the IRS upwards of $10 billion, according to a new report.

The New York Times reported Monday that Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose net worth is estimated to be the highest in the world at more than $300 billion, could owe 10% of that to the U.S. government under current tax laws due to some stock options set to expire next year.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., arrives at the Axel Springer Award ceremony in Berlin, Germany. Photographer: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Musk tweeted over the weekend, "Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock." He polled his Twitter followers on whether or not he should go through with the sale. Roughly 58% of the 3.5 million respondents said he should sell, which would leave him owning roughly 12% of the electric vehicle giant.

He added, "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."

Elon Musk

FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2017 file photo, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk congratulates teams competing on the Hyperloop Pod Competition II at SpaceX's Hyperloop track in Hawthorne, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File) (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File / AP Newsroom)

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At current prices, the Times reported, that means federal taxes that could top $30 billion.

The Tesla CEO said he would move forward with the sale in accordance with the poll results, but executive compensation consultant Brian Foley told The New York Times Musk might have had to make the sale regardless in order to pay the tax man for some 23 million Tesla stock options from 2012 that have vested and are set to expire in August of next year. 

Elon Musk

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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"They are a ticking tax time bomb," Foley said of Musk’s stock options. "Offhand I can’t think of any way for him to get around paying the tax."