SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla chief executive Elon Musk donated a total of 5,044,000 shares in the world’s most valuable automaker to a charity from Nov. 19 to Nov. 29 last year, its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, showed on Feb. 14.
The donation was worth $5.74 billion, based on the closing prices of Tesla shares on the five days that he donated the stock. The filing did not disclose the name of the charity.
The donation ranks Musk as America’s second-biggest donor after Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates last year, data from the Chronicle of Philanthropy shows.
This move came as the billionaire sold $16.4 billion worth of shares after polling Twitter users about offloading 10 percent of his stake in the electric-car maker in early November.
He said on Twitter that he would pay more than $11 billion in taxes in 2021 due to his exercise of stock options set to expire this year.
Musk also traded barbs with politicians Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who called on wealthy people to pay more taxes.
Analysts have said there would be a tax benefit for Musk potentially gifting Tesla stock, since shares donated to charity are not subject to capital gains tax, as they would be if sold.
“His tax benefit would be huge,” said Bob Lord, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies who studies tax policy.
“He’d save between 40 percent and 50 percent of the $5.7 billion in tax, depending on whether he could take the deduction against his California income and he’d avoid the gains tax he would have to pay if he sold the stock.”
Lord added that Musk might have contributed the stock to intermediaries such as “donor-advised funds,” not outright to charitable groups.
Tesla was not immediately available for comment.