THE FINANCIAL TRANSACTION TAX

ABSTRACT: A financial transaction tax (FTT) could generate $350 to $500 billion of revenue per year by applying a very low tax rate to financial transactions. The US had a financial transaction tax from 1914 to 1966 and 40 other countries have such a tax. It would not only generate needed revenue, it would also provide a disincentive for high volume, short-term, speculative trading. It has been dubbed “The Robin Hood Tax” (see www.robinhoodtax.org).

Multiple bills to create a FTT have been introduced in Congress, one of which, HR 6411, would rebate the tax to households with incomes under $75,000. It is also aligned with a broad, international campaign for the FTT.

FULL POST: As presented in my previous post (9/29/12), a financial transaction tax (FTT) could generate $350 to $500 billion of revenue per year by applying a very low tax rate to financial transactions. This would in effect be a sales tax on Wall St. transactions.

The US had a financial transaction tax from 1914 to 1966 and 40 other countries have such a tax. The US tax on purchases and sales of stock was 0.04% (40 cents on a $1,000 transaction). Currently, the US has a very small 0.0034% tax (3.4 cents per $1,000) that is levied on stock transactions to support the operating costs of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates financial markets. However, much of the revenue is being diverted to other purposes. [1]

A financial transaction tax would not only generate needed revenue, it would also provide a disincentive for high volume, short-term, speculative trading. Such trading produces profits for speculators, but no benefit for the overall economy. It actually harms the economy by contributing to increased market volatility and increased prices for commodities such as food and gasoline (see blog post 3/5/12).

The financial transaction tax has been dubbed “The Robin Hood Tax” and is being supported by National Nurses United (www.nationalnursesunited.org) and others (see www.robinhoodtax.org). Multiple bills to create a FTT have been introduced in Congress. One is House bill HR 6411, The Inclusive Prosperity Act. It would impose a 0.5% tax on stock trades ($5 per $1,000) and a lesser rate on other financial transactions (e.g., trading of bonds, currencies, and derivatives). The tax would be rebated to households with incomes under $75,000. It would generate an estimated $350 billion per year that could be used for deficit reduction or social and human needs, as recommended in the bill. It is aligned with a broad, international campaign for the FTT, including a very active effort in the European Union. The international campaign includes a specific focus on using revenue generated to address climate change and global health issues. [2]


[1]       Wikipedia, retrieved 9/28/12, “Financial transaction tax,” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_transaction_tax

[2]       Vanden Heuvel, K., 9/26/12, “The better bargain: Transaction tax, not austerity,” The Nation

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