Harkin/DeFazio Robin Hood Tax Would Generate $350 Billion

by Mike Hall

If Congress passed the Robin Hood/financial speculation tax, it would raise more than $350 billion between January 2013 and 2021, according to an analysis released Monday by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

The bill, formally known as the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act, was introduced last week by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.). Says Harkin:

It is hard to argue with this substantial revenue—derived from a tax of $3 on $10,000 of Wall Street trading. Our country needs every dollar possible to invest in infrastructure, job creation, the education of our children and reducing the debt among other priorities. This commonsense tax provides a viable solution.

It is estimated that the Robin Hood tax combined with the projected savings of the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan would hit the budget deficit Super Committee goal of $1.3 trillion in savings.

The small tax would be aimed primarily at high-volume, high-speed traders who deal in stocks, bonds, foreign currency bets, derivatives and other Wall Street financial products.  Says DeFazio:

This legislation will generate $350 billion in needed revenue for our cash strapped federal government by targeting speculators flipping stocks a thousand times a minute. We need serious proposals to get our country back on sound fiscal footing. $350 billion in new revenue will reduce our deficit and enable federal investments in our future.

At last week’s G-20 summit of the world’s biggest economies, many leaders endorsed the larger financial speculation tax proposed by the European Commission. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who was in Cannes, France, for the G-20 meeting and who met with many of the nations’ leaders, praised Harkin and DeFazio for introducing their bill, but said the AFL-CIO supports a larger tax rate on financial speculation.

In order to maximize revenue and minimize opportunities for tax arbitrage, Congress should pass a U.S. financial speculation tax in line with what has been proposed in Europe.

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