The Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street holds the promise of transforming our country. This is because it does something very profound. It raises the revenue we need to rebuild our communities, and it does so by going after both the source of our economic problems and the deepest pockets in our economy.
It should be supported on its merits by liberals, conservatives, and independents alike.
It is a minuscule tax on the purchase and sale of derivatives, options and stocks.
0.5% on stocks, just $.50 for each $100 of stock trades;
0.1% on bonds, just $.10 for each $100 of bond trades;
0.005% on derivative speculation in currencies, commodities, or other trades, just $.005 (half a penny) for each $100 of trades
The United States had such a tax from 1914 until 1966. It imposed a tax of 2 cents on every $100 sale or transfer of stock.
Statistically this financial service charge will have an insignificant difference for a long term retirement investor or 401k plans.
And there's an exemption: if the modified adjusted gross income of the taxpayer for the taxable year exceeds $50,000 ($75,000 in the case of a joint return and one-half of such amount in the case of a married individual filing a separate return).
It’s a simple tweak that would reign in an out-of-control financial sector, stimulate jobs, generate billions of revenue, and possibly prevent another heart-wrenching crisis. Nobel Prize-winning economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman want it. Billionaires like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates want it. Polls show the majority of Americans want it. Even the Pope wants it.
The tax would be small enough to not inhibit any stock trading, but because of the huge volume of trades, would be enough to add hundreds of billions of dollars in federal government revenue.
Two bills, currently stalled in committee, have been proposed to kick-start this movement. In the House, Rep. Keith Ellison has sponsored the Inclusive Prosperity Act of 2013 (H.R.1579) calling for a .5 percent tax on Wall Street. In the Senate, Tom Harkin has written and sponsored the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act (S.410) seeking a .03 percent excise tax. Language in both bills would provide protections for the types of tax-free investments, like 401(k)s, that represent a significant amount of most Americans’ interaction with Wall Street.
The Robin Hood Tax is just. The banks can afford it. The systems are in place to collect it. It won't affect ordinary members of the public, their bank accounts or their savings. It's fair, it's timely, and it's possible. It's not a tax on the people, but a tax for the people.
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