Elizabeth Warren is Lying About Elon Musk Again

Tesla CEO and Twitter iconoclast Elon Musk once called Elizabeth Warren “Senator Karen,” and frankly, it’s easy to see why. Over the weekend, the far-left Massachusetts Democrat yet again unfairly attacked the billionaire—this time, lying about how much he pays in taxes.

During an appearance on CNN’s New Day, Warren was asked about the fact that Musk just donated billions in Tesla stock to charity. 

“I’m delighted that he did this,” Warren responded. “I also believe, however, that billionaires ought to be paying taxes—and it shouldn’t be optional.”

(Um… it’s not?)

“Elon Musk in 2018, we’ve actually seen his tax returns,” she said. “You know how much he paid in taxes? One of the richest people in the world: zero.”

This is a lie. 

Yes, it is true that in 2018, Musk paid no income tax—because, after writing off losses and deductions, he had no net taxable income. In fact, he does not take a salary from Tesla, other than the required California minimum wage of roughly $37,000/year. Musk’s billions in compensation come from receiving Tesla stock. So, of course, he doesn’t pay income taxes—they only apply to, well, income. 

But this does not validate Warren’s claim that Musk pays “zero in taxes.” Income tax is not the only tax! (I wish…)

Not even close. Musk must pay corporate and payroll taxes through Tesla, California state taxes, sales taxes on his massive purchases, property taxes, and too many other taxes to count. 

And, when Musk cashes out his stock options, he has to pay massive taxes. For 2021, Musk reportedly faced the biggest federal tax bill in history after selling stock options, with estimates of what he owes ranging from $8.3 billion to $15 billion. 

To say Musk pays “zero taxes” because he did not—in one specific year—have to pay anything for one specific tax is more than just a falsity. For a woman as intelligent and well-versed in federal policy as Elizabeth Warren, it is a lie.

But the senator kept going.

 “And [Musk] is not the only one,” Warren continued. “Jeff Bezos, another one of the richest people in the world, he pays less in taxes than a public school teacher or a firefighter.”

Again she makes the same mistake. This is hilariously inaccurate. In fact, Bezos probably paid more in associated taxes purchasing one of his homes than most teachers or firefighters will over their entire lifetimes. 

We can have good-faith debates about tax policy and whether we really need to “tax the rich.” (Spoiler alert, we already have a highly progressive federal tax system). But it’s simply unacceptable for elected officials like Senator Warren to openly lie about and falsely demonize American entrepreneurs just to push their political narrative. 

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Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and co-founder of Based Politics. His work has been cited by top lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Pat Toomey, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman Thomas Massie, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, as well as by prominent media personalities such as Jordan Peterson, Sean Hannity, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Mark Levin. Brad has also testified before the US Senate, appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and written for publications such as USA Today, National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. He hosts the Breaking Boundaries podcast and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.