Wednesday, February 11, 2009

If There Must Be a Tax Increase...

The other day, one of my favorite blogs, Independent Political Report, posted a letter from Ralph Nader regarding a financial transactions tax.

I have not paid attention to Nader or his views recently, but I appreciated some of the ideas put forth in this letter. For instance,
Let’s start with a fairness point. Why should you pay a 5 to 6 percent sales tax for buying the necessities of life, when tomorrow, some speculator on Wall Street can buy $100 million worth of Exxon derivatives and not pay one penny in sales tax?
The basis of my position on tax entails trying to find the most fair and equitable tax treatment for all people. I hate paying taxes, but I understand it is a necessary in order to provide for a safe and effective country. It doesn't seem fair to me that speculators are purchasing assets (stocks, bonds, etc.) without paying a sales tax, simply because of the type of asset it is. Nader goes on to say,
He adds that after the 1987 stock market crash, securities-trading taxes “or similar measures” were endorsed by then Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole and even the first President Bush. Professor Pollin estimates that a one-half of one percent tax would raise about $350 billion a year. That seems conservative. The Wall Street Journal once mentioned about $500 trillion in derivatives trades alone in 2008—the most speculative of transactions. A one tenth of one percent tax would raise $500 billion dollars a year, assuming that level of trading.
Economist Dean Baker says a “modest financial transactions tax would be enough to “finance a 10% across-the-board reduction in the income tax on labor.
I would love to see a decrease in my income tax bill. I don't believe a 0.1% tax added to my purchases of stocks would hurt me, nor would it affect most people.

There are conditions, however, to my support for a tax of this nature. I would only favor this tax if there is a reduction in income tax. This condition would be next to impossible to be included, with the economy in being in its current state.

Condition #2 is that there be a waiver of financial transaction taxes in 401(k) and other retirement accounts. Taxing retirement accounts would be counterproductive.

I don't anticipate ever seeing a proposal such as this being discussed seriously in Congress or the Senate. The big financial institutions who would end up paying a large chunk of the increased revenue just wouldn't allow it to happen. It's all just wishful thinking.

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