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Alternative Market Briefing

A financial transaction tax in the US, could it happen this time?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bailey McCann, Opalesque New York:

The Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) is back on the table in the US. Members of congress have, steadily proposed one version of the tax or another, each year since 2009, although since congress is only focused on absolute dysfunction, the bills have yet to make it out of markup. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), reintroduced the measure on February 28, causing editorial pages from all corners of the media universe to spring to life voicing mostly opposition to the idea. However, many of the arguments are weak, and given that financial transaction taxes are in place globally already, and set to expand in the EU, opponents may find themselves on the losing end of this battle.

Historical precedent

London has had a financial transaction tax on the books since 1694, it’s one of the oldest taxes continuously enacted in the UK, and made it to the US early on. The US levied an FTT from 1914 to 1966 on stock sales at a rate of 0.1% at issuance and 0.04% on transfers. Even now, the US still has a miniscule transaction tax - the Section 31 fee of 0.0034% on stock transactions. That fee goes to fund operating costs for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The measure proposed by Senator Harkin and Representative DeFazio, seeks to impose a 0.03% tax on most non-consumer financial trading including stocks, bonds and other debts, except for their initial issuance. The tax would also cover all......................

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