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Why Tax Wall Street

The FTT (Financial Transaction Tax) - a Wall Street Tax to Heal America

The United States is hurting. Large banks and other Wall Street firms raided our economy, leaving millions of Americans to suffer. Today, families are homeless. Sick people can’t afford medical care. College students are drowning in debt before graduation.

Millions of the unemployed can’t find jobs, and many have given up. It’s why people are taken to the streets in the Occupy movement in cities across the country. We have a simple idea that can help: Add a sales tax on Wall Street trades of stocks, dividends and other financial transactions. It’s like the sale tax you pay when buying a pair of shoes.

Our proposal is for a small tax of 50 cents on every $100 of Wall Street trades and other transactions. That’s a tax of one-half of one percent but it adds up to big money — up to $350 billion a year. 

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Think of how that could help our country.

It could fund 9 million new jobs that pay an average of $38,844 a year or save 1.7 million homes from foreclosure.

That’s help worth fighting for.

Nurses see the devastation the economy has caused in the lives of their patients every day. We hear the heartbreaking stories and witness how economic stress hurts people’s health – increased heart attacks, mental health issues, and anxiety.

That’s why RNs with National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in the country, with 170,000 members, are going beyond their bedside roles and are fighting to Tax Wall Street with a financial transaction tax.

It’s time our country begins to heal. That's where the nurses come in.

We are not alone in seeking a financial transaction tax. The Pope, billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, Ralph Nader, Nobel laureate economists and the AFL-CIO are among many who support the idea.

Tax Wall Street

Here are some frequently asked questions about the financial transaction tax:

  • Will an FTT harm ordinary investors?
  • No. The tax would not apply to normal consumer activities, such ATM use, debit card purchases, 401(k) plans, and initial issuance of home loans.
  • Traders could also be legally barred from passing along the costs to consumers. The main target is big banks and investment firms, such as Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. They alone account for almost 25 percent of total global market volume on currency trades.

Won’t an FTT harm the economy by discouraging Wall Street activity?

Nope. What it would likely do is reduce the number of wild swings and market volatility, as well as the excessive speculation, both of which have damaged ordinary investors and caused instability in the overall economy.

Speculative activity has grown 400 percent in the past decade, yet only 2 percent of currency trades today build the real economy in goods and services.

Would a tax on Wall Street put the U.S. at a global disadvantage?

No. Some 15 industrial nations, including many of the fastest growing markets, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, already have an FTT.
Pressure also is growing for the European Union to adopt a continent wide FTT. In November, RNs with National Nurses United co-sponsored a major protest at the G-20 summit in France with other groups, including the International Trade Union Confederation and Oxfam.

Isn’t the idea of an FTT foreign to the U.S.?

Not at all. The U.S. had a FTT from 1914 to 1966. After a Wall Street crash in 1987, leading U.S. politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and the first President Bush, endorsed reinstating an FTT. Many prominent U.S. economists are in the forefront of the proposal to re-adopt an FTT in the U.S.

Who else supports the idea of an FTT?

 
Many, among them: the AFL-CIO and international labor federations, leading anti-poverty and environmental groups like Oxfam and the World Wildlife Fund, consumer legend Ralph Nader, Public Citizen, Nobel laureate economists, including Paul Krugman and former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz, the conservative presidents of France and Germany, Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and the Archbishop of Canterbury (UK).

We hope you join us in demanding an FTT.  You can start by signing our petition here.

Time for Wall Street to Pay its Fair Share

A Financial Transaction Tax of 0.5% (one half of one percent) on Wall Street trading could generate billions in revenue to help our ailing economy, stimulate job growth, re-fund essential services, and discourage the reckless, high-volume/short-term profit computer-driven Wall Street gambling that lead to our current economic crisis. It could raise more than $350 billion annually, enough to close the funding gaps in every US state now facing deep cuts, with billions left to invest in job creation each year.

The Basics of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT)

  • Equivalent to sales taxes Americans pay for most goods and services; no similar tax exists on Wall Street transactions.
  • Would not apply to normal consumer activity including use of ATMs, debit card purchases, 401k pension plans, or obtaining a home loan. Minimal impact on ordinary investors. 
  • Targets major banks, investment firms. Financial giants Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley alone account for almost 25% of the total overall global market volume share of currency trades.
  • Should discourage some excessive Wall Street speculation, the main cause of the 2008 economic crash, whose perpetrators were rewarded with bailouts and bonuses. Speculative activity has grown 400% in the past decade; only 2% of currency trades today build the real economy in goods and services.
  • An international campaign. More than 15 nations, and the seven fastest growing markets, have an FTT. The European Commission has proposed an FTT that would raise 78 billion euros a year.
  • Highly successful. The London Stock Exchange, with a .5% tax on each stock trade, has been very successful in raising revenues, while not inhibiting financial activity, remaining the largest in Europe.
  • Tough to evade. In Great Britain, those who fail to pay the FTT do not get title to securities.
  • Not a new idea. The U.S. had an FTT from 1914 to 1966. After the 1987 U.S. Wall Street crash, major U.S. politicians, including Senate Majority leader Bob Dole and the first President Bush, endorsed reinstating an FTT.

FTT already working in other nations
Financial transaction taxes have already been introduced very effectively in more than 40 other countries around the world and European leaders are pressing for a similar measure there, sometimes referred to as a "Robin Hood" tax.

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