Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are the first and second richest people in the world, with a net wealth of $224 billion and $137 billion as of May 13 respectively, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
They fight for this prestigious crown.
The two billionaires are also in competition in the conquest of space, pitting SpaceX (Musk) against Blue Origin (Bezos). This last struggle is fratricidal. The two men surrender blow for blow. But sometimes they manage to find common ground, like when they recently agreed on a solution to try to solve the problem of homelessness in San Francisco.
Musk and Bezos want to be remembered as disruptors. The first completely transformed the automotive sector with Tesla (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc Report. The second changed the way we shop with Amazon (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report.
If their ambitions often meet, the two men have different styles. Musk does not shy away from public fights. He even loves them. He responds blow for blow to his detractors. Bezos has often opted for discretion. Although he is often followed by the paparazzi, Bezos is rarely involved in public spars.
One topic had highlighted the difference between the two men: taxes on the wealthy. When Democratic Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren go after the wealthy and accuse Musk and Bezos of not paying enough taxes, Tesla’s CEO always fires back.
This was the case in March when the two senators again attacked the two billionaires described as oligarchs by Sanders.
“Will visit IRS next time I’m in DC just to say hi, since I paid the most taxes ever in history for an individual last year. Maybe I can have a cookie or something,” Musk responded.
Bezos Takes a Page Out of Musk’s Book
But now it seems that Bezos no longer wants to take the blows without saying anything. The billionaire wants to return them. And he just took a page out of Musk’s book.
On May 13, Democratic President Joe Biden posted on Twitter a message in which he advocated taxing the wealthiest corporations as a solution to reduce inflation.
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“You want to bring down inflation?” Biden asked. “Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.”
“The newly created Disinformation Board should review this tweet, or maybe they need to form a new Non Sequitur Board instead,” Bezos commented on May 13, referring to the Department of Homeland Security’s newly established Disinformation Governance Board. This board was created in April to address privacy concerns related to disinformation campaigns, according to DHS. But the name of the board has raised concerns among Republicans who wonder if its creation is not intended to limit free speech
“Raising corp taxes is fine to discuss. Taming inflation is critical to discuss. Mushing them together is just misdirection,” Bezos added.
This is the first time that Bezos has publicly attacked Biden. His tweet also marks that the billionaire has recently become very active on Twitter. Like his rival Musk, Bezos isn’t shy about interacting with users and his followers. Admittedly, he currently only has 4.2 million followers compared to 93.1 million for Musk, but if he remains as active and on the offensive, the number of his fans should increase very quickly.
Amazon is often, along with other tech behemoths, the object of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans accusing the e-commerce giant of not paying enough taxes.
Former Republican President Donald Trump threatened in March 2018 to use his powers to rein in the company.
“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” the former president posted on Twitter on March 29, 2018..
“The general principle that I know deeply concerns the president is that we need to live in a world where the government sets a level playing field between internet vendors and mom and pop stores,” Kevin Hassett, the chair of the president’s council on economic advisers, told Fox Business at the time.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Hassett referred to the fact that for many years Amazon had a competitive advantage because it was allowed not to charge sales tax because the group had few warehouses.
But things had changed as the company grew. Amazon collects sales tax in every state that charges one and transmits it to the states.
In 2021, the Seattle, Wash.-based company paid $3.7 billion in taxes on total revenue of $469 billion.