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Elon Musk calls Elizabeth Warren a ‘Karen’ as they spar over his taxes on Twitter

Elon Musk was named Time magazine's 2021 "Person of the Year" on Monday.Associated Press

Tesla and SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk attacked Senator Elizabeth Warren multiple times on Twitter Tuesday after she called out Time magazine’s newest “Person of the Year” for avoiding federal income taxes, but Warren ignored the tweets and responded instead in a fund-raising message to supporters.

On Monday morning, shortly after Time announced the honor for Musk, Warren went after him.

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

According to a June report from the nonprofit investigative news organization Pro Publica, Musk paid no federal income tax in 2018 and paid only $65,000 in 2017 and $68,000 in 2015. Forbes magazine estimates Musk’s net worth at $151 billion, making him the second richest person in the world after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.


Musk responded to Warren on Tuesday afternoon with a tweet that said simply, “Stop projecting!” and linked to a February 2019 Fox News article about Warren’s controversial past claims of Native American ancestry.

A short time later, Musk posted another tweet.

“You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason,” he said.

Then he posted a third. “Please don’t call the manager on me, Senator Karen,” he said, referencing the meme of “Karen” as a name for a privileged, older white woman.

Representatives for Warren and Musk did not immediately respond to inquiries from the Globe.

Later Tuesday evening, Musk began another Twitter thread in response to Warren’s tweet, writing, “And if you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year.”

Minutes later he added, “Don’t spend it all at once … oh wait you did already.”


Warren did not immediately respond to Musk’s tweets, but she attacked him again Tuesday evening in a fund-raising e-mail, calling him “a poster child for how our rigged tax code lets billionaires pay hardly any taxes at all” as she touted her plan for a wealth tax on people with fortunes larger than $50 million.

In the e-mail, Warren contrasted Musk with hardworking doctors, nurses, researchers, and educators who she suggested were more deserving of the Time magazine honor for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

“When someone makes it big in America — millionaire big, billionaire big, Person of the Year big — part of it has to include paying it forward so the next kid can get a chance, too,” Warren said in the e-mail.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.