Fast track for Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in Europe

Posted by Robin Hood Tax

The good news just keeps rolling in to Sherwood. The 11 European countries pushing for a financial transaction tax aren’t hanging about!

The 11 countries have lodged their official request with the European Commission asking for a financial transaction tax  via the ‘enhanced cooperation’ procedure. The European Commission have this week given the green light confirming that all legal conditions have been met and that the countries can now proceed. They also indicated that part of the revenue should be spent on “growth-promoting activity or to meet development aid commitments”.

So, what next? There are now just 2 hurdles to jump before the tax will begin: it must pass a vote in the European Council and a vote in the European Parliament. This could happen as early as mid-November and for this to happen before the end of the year would be a huge success!

In the mean time, some countries aren’t waiting around. France has already started their own financial transaction tax with Portugal hot on their heels.

This exciting (and speedy) progress in Europe shows us that it is possible to ensure that banks pay their fair share. Yet still the UK refuses to back the tax – turning down billions in vitally needed new revenue especially during the times of austerity.

Keep up the pressure and ask the UK Government join the newest and merriest band in town.

Email your MP here >> 

Breakthrough: 11 European countries unite behind a Robin Hood Tax

 

In a breakthrough moment during Tuesday’s European Finance Ministers meeting, 11 countries signed up for a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT).  Europe’s biggest economies Germany and France are joined by Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia, Slovakia and Estonia, to take a lead in showing the rest of Europe that FTTs are more than a great idea – they are possible.

Countries across Europe are waking up to the possibility that there is a way to deal with the backlash from the financial crisis and that the banks need to pay their fair share.  Signalling a change in temperature for support of an FTT, the 11 countries surpass the threshold of 9 needed to introduce the tax using the ‘enhanced cooperation‘ method within the European Union – meaning this group can now move closer towards implementation.

The FTT is expected to raise tens of billions of Euros a year.  This revenue will be collected nationally – meaning it’s up to each individual country to decide how to spend the money. Both France and Germany, who have been spearheading the FTT, are against using the revenue for the European Union budget.  Now we must ensure the money is used to tackle poverty and climate change so the tax can truly be worthy of the name ‘Robin Hood’. Fortunately we have friends on side. France and Germany have both reiterated that part of the revenue will be spent in this way.  This was confirmed this week during a press conference when European Union Tax Commissioner Algirdas Semeta stated:

“…The FTT proposal is a stand-alone proposal. If introduced, the Member States can use the revenues for the purposes they may consider as most appropriate. We know that many Member States have strong commitments in terms of financing development aid.”

Head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Largarde spoke today at the International Symposium on Innovative Financing Mechanisms and Financial Transaction Tax, stating the development as “a good step in the right direction.”

A strong signal is being sent that alternative forms of finance are possible at country level, showing the UK Government that it can be done. More and more countries are looking to raise much needed revenue and take a step towards curbing casino-style banking, suggesting that London may well be left standing outside in the cold.

In response Owen Tudor, spokesperson for the Robin Hood Tax campaign, said:

“It’s great news that so many countries are uniting behind a tax that will help rein in the banks and raise billions in much needed revenue… It’s unfathomable that the UK Government can turn down billions just to protect their friends in the City whilst increasing cuts that will hit the poorest hardest.”

‘Ideas for a fairer economy’ debate hits Labour Fringe 2012

This year at Labour conference the Robin Hood Tax campaign teamed up with Compass and the Co-operative Party to put on a fringe event discussing ‘Ideas for a Fairer Economy‘. Chaired by Larry Elliott (The Guardian), the high profile panel of speakers  – Chris Leslie MP (Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury), Polly Toynbee (The Guardian), Frances O’Grady (Designate General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress), David Hillman (Stamp Out Poverty) and Neal Lawson (Compass) – drew a capacity crowd.

The panel outlined their Ideas for a Fairer Economy, and, on the back of Ed Balls pledge earlier in the day to press for an international transaction tax, the Robin Hood Tax was high up the agenda.

Much of the conversation was centred around growth – and Neal Lawson saw a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) as part of a means to deliver upon a red-green agenda that creates jobs but also ensures our environment is sustainable over the long term.

According to Polly Toynbee, “the Robin Hood Tax offers a means to reverse the death spiral of the economy, £20bn of revenue per year, and I think Labour will do it.”

The debate was interactive, with the panel fielding key contributions from the audience, as well as questions that had been sent in via twitter throughout the day. The issue of childcare was raised as of vital importance – money needs to be found to deliver free and subsidised childcare, and revenue from a FTT could be used to protect public services.

Chris Leslie MP promised that Labour were “looking hard at the nitty-gritty details of an FTT” and the party “wanted” to implement the tax.  He also urged that bankers should not exploit customers ignorance to charge unjustifiably large fees to their consumers, something that the panel and the audience approved in large numbers.

But it was the FTT that formed the standout ‘Idea for a Fairer Economy.’ Frances O’Grady summed the views of many in the room when saying an FTT would both address financial recklessness, and raise significant revenue.

David Hillman added that it was time for Labour – and all parties – to get off the fence on the issue. He argued that if £10bn of FTT revenue was earmarked for domestic purposes, some of this designated revenue could be used to capitalise for example the £40bn British Investment Bank.

The event generated plenty of discussion on twitter, and made it into Polly’s Guardian article.

New report from leading expert on the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), explains why (and how) applying an FTT to derivatives trading is more feasible today than ever before.

Currently a minimum of 9 European countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, are pushing ahead to implement an FTT by the end of the year.  Negotiations are now underway concerning the coverage of the tax and discussions are ongoing over whether or not trading in derivatives will be taxed – with some (mistakenly) arguing its too complicated and not technically feasible.

The Robin Hood Tax campaign is pushing for an FTT to be applied to derivatives as this would generate significantly more revenue and also help reduce the casino-style banking behaviour which contributed to the current economic crises. Encouragingly, Germany is also pushing for the inclusion of derivatives.

As these discussions are happening between countries, Professor Rodney Schmidt, a leading expert on the FTT from Canada’s North-South Institute, has published a timely report explaining how, given new regulations currently underway, applying an FTT to derivatives trading is more feasible today than ever before.  Here’s why:

  • An FTT on derivatives, whether OTC or on-exchange, will be feasible as soon as new regulations requiring globally centralised trade reporting are in place. In the US and Europe this process will be complete within the next year.
  • This is technically feasible because matching, confirming, storing, and settling contracts is standardised, centralised, and electronically automated. This came about through cooperative action of the largest dealers and under the lead and guidance of regulators.

This is an extremely useful, informative and timely report, which we encourage all interested in understanding the mechanisms of taxing financial transactions in a little more depth, to read.

‘Difficult Labour’ – hilarious new film from Oxfam Germany in support of a Robin Hood Tax

Oxfam Germany have released a brilliant new video in support of a Robin Hood Tax.

Germany is one of 9 European countries set to implement a financial transaction tax by the end of the year through the method of ‘enhanced cooperation’ in the EU.

And this video suggests just how painless the process will actually be…

Visit the German campaign 

Robin Hood Tax bill introduced in Congress

This blog is from the Robin Hood Tax US 

Last week in New York, the U.S. Robin Hood Tax Campaign applauded the introduction in Congress of a bill that would impose a tax on Wall Street speculation.  Introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison, HR 6411, the Inclusive Prosperity Act,  would raise up to $350 billion in annual revenues that would be used to breathe new life into Main Street communities across America, as well as international health, sustainable prosperity and environmental programs.

The legislation embodies the Robin Hood Tax, a 0.5% tax on the trading of stocks, 50 cents on every $100 of trades, and lesser rates on trading in bonds, derivatives and currencies.  It marks the return of a sales tax on financial transactions in place from 1914 to 1966 and targets the high-risk, high-speed trading that dominates the markets.

“The American public provided hundreds of billions to bailout Wall Street during the global fiscal crisis yet bore the brunt of the crisis with lost jobs and reduced household wealth,” said Rep. Ellison in a press statement.  “This is a phenomenally wealthy nation, yet our tax and regulatory system allowed the financial titans to amass great riches while impoverishing the systems that enable inclusive prosperity. A financial transaction tax protects our financial markets from speculation and provides the revenue needed to invest in the education, health and communities of the American people.”

The legislation’s goal is to raise meaningful tax revenue dedicated to low and moderate income families by strengthening the social safety net and by expanding investments to protect health, rebuilding infrastructure and creating good paying jobs.  The tax is also to target international needs, including AIDS treatment, research and prevention and for other critical assistance.

“Congressman Ellison is showing great leadership for our country,” said Jean Ross, RN, co-president of National Nurses United. “HR 6411 is a critical step to generate the revenue for the healing and recovery our Main Street communities across the nation so desperately need.  From coast to coast, nurses, health care, AIDS, environmental, labor, faith community and other community activists have come together calling for a Robin Hood tax on financial speculation so that Wall Street will help pay to reverse the damage its reckless behavior caused to our economy. This is a small, common sense tax, already in place and working wonderfully well in dozens of countries across the world. America is ready for the Robin Hood tax.”

“Last summer, scientists proved that we can actually end the AIDS pandemic if we just scale up our investment in treatment and prevention programs,” said Jennifer Flynn, managing director of Health GAP (Global Access Project). “But when we go to Congress, all we hear about are budget cuts.  We need to increase revenue and the Robin Hood Tax is the best of all proposals to do just that.”

“This tiny tax on Wall Street will make our economy more stable and more fair.  The U.S. once had a Robin Hood Tax and we were better off for it, it’s time to bring it back,” said Liz Ryan Murray, policy director for National People’s Action.

“In its essentials, the idea of a financial market transaction tax is simple,” said economist Robert Pollin, co-director, Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), University of Massachusetts-Amherst.  “It would mean that financial market traders would pay a small fee to the government every time they purchased any financial market instrument, including all stock, bond, options, futures, and swap trades.  This would be the equivalent of sales taxes that Americans have long paid every time they buy an automobile, shirt, baseball glove, airline ticket, or pack of chewing gum, eat at a restaurant, or have their hair cut.”

The Robin Hood Tax also helps to control the volume of speculation engulfing the financial markets, where risky bets are causing instability and sidelining billions in funds that might otherwise be directed to a productive economy.  And the sales tax assists in curtailing speculation in food and fuel markets, where bets on these essentials are causing spikes in prices and serious shortages.

The introduction of HR 6411 came on the eve of the One Year Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.  Occupy’s call to stop the policies of inequality of the 1% continues to resonate across this country and beyond. Last week Robin Hood Tax campaigners joined Occupy activists at a labor solidarity event at Zuccotti Park in New York City, and then carried the message  to offices of financial institutions to demand imposition of the Robin Hood Tax. Here’s some pictures from the action:

Robin Hood Tax debate on Al-Jazeera

During a recent debate on Al Jazeera, leading economist Stephany Griffith-Jones argues for a Robin Hood Tax.

Stephany explains that the tax would be progressive (i.e. it would hit the richest institutions and individuals in society), it would target high-frequency, noise trading – helping to reduce systemic risk in the financial sector and future financial crises – and raise billions in much needed to help tackle poverty and climate change at home and abroad.

Watch the full debate here to find out why we need a Robin Hood Tax

Big win as France introduces its very own Robin Hood Tax

Big win for the Robin Hood Tax campaign

Great news as President Francois Hollande has just introduced a 0.2% levy on share trading in France.

The tax, which came into effect today, will be imposed on purchases of shares in France’s largest companies. It is expected to raise 500 million euros (£390 million) next year and Hollande has indicated that part of the revenue will be used to fight global poverty and HIV/Aids.

Advocates of the tax say that it will also help curb the speculation which has been blamed for contributing towards the financial crash of 2008.

David Hillman, Stamp Out Poverty’s Director, speaking on behalf of the Robin Hood Tax campaign, said: “It’s great news that France is forging ahead with a Robin Hood Tax – showing it’s capable of putting the interests of people before the profits of a privileged few”.

France is not alone. Many of Europe’s other biggest economies are making the banks pay their fair share for the damage they’ve caused. Currently a group of 9 European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain) have agreed to implement a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) covering not just shares but also bonds and derivatives. The tax would raise a massive £26.8 billion a year – this is much needed revenue to fund domestic and international social priorities, such as save jobs and tackle poverty and climate change.

Yet, instead of doing the same, the UK Government chooses to protect their friends in the City by promising to “fight it [the FTT] all the way” as they wrongly believe that the tax would be damaging to the City of London and wider UK economy. On the contrary a study by Avinash Persaud, President of a leading City think tank, shows that an FTT would actually be good for growth and jobs – generating 75,000 new jobs in the UK alone. Persaud has now been joined by more than 50 finance industry professionals in support of an FTT.

 

 

 

Dave and Max’s Excellent Robin Hood Run Adventure

Dave and Max’s Excellent Robin Hood Run Adventure

Dressed as Robin Hood, I exited Piccadilly Circus station along with hundreds of other more soberly attired runners. The big day had arrived – the day of the London 10k run! As I greeted my running compadre – another Robin (aka Max) -the grey blanket of cloud above us started to spit and drizzle. A bad sign, you might think – well, not so good for spectators, but great for runners. (Cool conditions are cool!)

Along with 30,000 runners we set off, a small proportion costumed – a Scooby-doo here, an Incredible Hulk there – to the cheers of an enthusiastic, if slightly damp, crowd. Some of us were running for causes, but most out to run one of London’s most scenic routes: the six and a quarter mile course covers Trafalgar Square, the Embankment, Westminster Bridge and the Houses of the Parliament.

Max and I had great fun playing to the people lining the roads, waving to them, applauding them for standing out there in the rain. In return we received regular chants of “Go Robin”, sometimes people broke into singing “Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen”. One rather confused individual shouted: “Go Peter Pan”! After looking rather incredulously at each other, I yelled back: “I’m not Peter Pan, I’m Robin Hood – if I was Peter Pan I would’ve flown round”.

Before we knew it we were at the end turning into Whitehall towards the finish line. As we approached Downing Street we agreed to give the Prime Minister a Sunday wake-up call so in unison we chanted: “What do we want? A Robin Hood Tax! When do we want it? Now!” After a few rounds, the police started to take notice. So we ran off like naughty schoolchildren to finish the 10k, which we did crossing the line together.

All in all, an excellent experience and I’ve nearly reached my £2,000 fundraising target. If you’d like to help me get over that line, please visit: http://www.justgiving.com/DaveHillman – Thank You!

 

Triumphant Dave

 

Getting ready to run for Robin – help Dave raise money for the Robin Hood Tax campaign

All set for Sunday!

As you know Stamp Out Poverty’s Director is taking part in the British 10k run to raise money for the Robin Hood Tax campaign.

This Sunday, Dave Hillman will be running for Robin, complete with green tights, at the British 10k run in London.

Dave said: “I’m supporting the amazing work this campaign is doing to get a fair tax on the financial sector”.

Over the past weeks Dave’s been training hard and has raised over £1600 for the campaign. Please help him meet his £2k target and give as generously as you can.

Sponsor Dave

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