Elon Musk is likely to pay the highest federal tax bill in history, but his detractors argue that this is insufficient

What appears to be bothering Warren is Musk's wealth. In other words, it's an envious politics.

On Tuesday, Elon Musk made a big assertion on Twitter. The Tesla founder said he would “pay more taxes than any American in history this year.”

Is the assertion correct? Only the IRS knows for sure who the greatest taxpayer in US history is, although Musk looks to be correct, according to Forbes.

“The eccentric billionaire (and the world’s richest person) likely owes the federal government at least $8.3 billion for 2021,” Forbes reports.

Business Insider projects Musk’s tax bill is even higher when state taxes are included.

“Taxes on his stock, nearly a billion in Net Investment Income Tax, and the billions he likely owes California could add up to about $12 billion in total,” report Jason Lalljee and Andy Kiersz.

CNBC, meanwhile, figured Musk’s total tax bill was even higher—$15 billion.

Musk's tax burden is mostly due to the roughly $13 billion in Tesla stock he sold as of December 13, which is even more than Jeff Bezos' record $10.2 billion in Amazon shares sold last year.

Whatever Musk's tax bill turns out to be, it's important looking at his assertion in perspective. Musk wasn't gloating about having the world's biggest tax bill; rather, he was replying to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who, for some reason, chastised Musk for not paying his fair amount of taxes.

“Let’s change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else,” Warren tweeted.

Yes, you read that right. Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, referred to Musk as a freeloader. It's conceivable that Warren is unaware that Musk is on track to pay more in taxes than any other American—possibly human being—in history, but it's more probable that she doesn't care and is content to spread the lie that Musk isn't paying taxes. After Musk had answered to Warren, Warren made it apparent in later statements.

“He’s the richest guy in the world, and he just doesn’t want to pay taxes,” Warren said. “That’s what it’s all about for me.”

She continued:

 

“I gotta say, on behalf of every school teacher who pays taxes, on behalf of every waitress who pays taxes, on behalf of every American citizen who goes out and works for a living and pays taxes …that’s just fundamentally wrong. We have a broken tax system that lets Elon Musk freeload off everyone else, and it needs to stop.”

Warren’s claim that Musk is a “freeloader” is preposterous, of course. Taking the lowest estimate on what Musk is expected to pay, he’ll cough up more in taxes than the entire state of Massachusetts collected in sales and use taxes through the first half of 2021—from its 7 million residents.

Moreover, unlike Warren, who collects a salary from the government, Musk earned much of his wealth by creating value. Tesla employs nearly 80,000 people who’ve built no fewer than 623,000 energy-efficient cars in 2021 alone.Tesla's market capitalization is approaching $1 trillion, making many Tesla employees and stockholders extremely affluent. Warren, on the other hand, does not produce anything. Every dollar of her $174,000 salary—and the money she uses to pay her staff—comes from taxpayer-funded funds. Every dime she spends was stolen from someone else who worked hard for it.

Musk's accomplishments should be celebrated, but Warren, the ultimate freeloader, accuses him of "freeloading" and feels he should be paying more.

What appears to be bothering Warren is Musk's wealth. In other words, it's an envious politics.

Envy is rightfully regarded one of the Seven Deadly Sins. It's a destructive personality trait that has negative consequences for both people and civilizations. The celebrated philosopher Immanuel Kant described envy as,

“…a propensity to view the well-being of others with distress, even though it does not detract from one’s own. [It is] a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another’s because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others. [It] aims, at least in terms of one’s wishes, at destroying others’ good fortune.”

The pre-Socratic philosopher Democritus (c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC)—in a wonderfully libertarian quote—once warned of the danger of envy and purpose of the law.

“[Just] laws would not prevent each man from living according to his inclination, unless individuals harmed each other; for envy creates the beginning of strife,” he wrote.

Strife is precisely what Warren and those who share her philosophy are sowing, and it’s clear she and others view Musk’s good fortune with distress. If that’s not envy, I don’t know what is.

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