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Robin Hood Says: If We Can Tax Internet Sales, Why Not Wall Street and the Banks?

Robin Hood Tax USA Press Release, 5/7/13

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With the passage in the U.S. Senate Monday of a new sales tax on internet purchasers, activists in the Robin Hood Tax Campaign today asked, “if we can tax the world wide web, why not the world wide banks?”

The Marketplace Fairness Act would target what the National Conference of State Legislatures estimates is $23.3 billion in lost sales tax revenue in 2012 for sales made on line rather than at brick and mortar stores.

“Now that the Senate has shown it can move forward on one proposal to raise revenue rather than just insisting on more austerity for American workers, there’s another bill just reintroduced in Congress that would raise well over ten times that amount every year,” said Deborah Burger, RN, co president of the National Nurses United, on behalf of the Robin Hood tax campaign.

HR 1579, the Inclusive Prosperity Act, authored by Rep. Keith Ellison would establish a small fee of just 50 cents for every $100 of stock sales, and lesser amounts on the trading bonds, derivatives, and other financial instruments.

Similar to the financial transaction tax recently adopted by 11 countries in Europe, and now in place in the world’s largest economies except the U.S., HR 1579 could raise hundreds of billions of dollars every year with new revenue for good jobs, healthcare, education, fighting AIDS, and helping to reverse climate change.

Unlike an internet sales tax, which ropes in lots of ordinary people who make purchases over the web, a financial speculation tax targets the wealthiest of the wealthy, the bankers and brokers whose gambling broke our economy, and the top 1 percent who own most of the nation’s stocks and bonds, says the Robin Hood Tax Campaign

Evidence of the difference between the two bills can be seen in who they exempt. The internet bill exempts businesses that have up to $1 million in annual sales, which means a lot of profitable companies would not be covered. HR 1579 limits its exemptions to individuals with incomes under $50,000 and families with incomes under $75,000.

With the European countries, including economic powerhouses Germany and France, implementing a FTT, said Jennifer Flynn, managing director of Health GAP (Global Action Project), “U.S. financial institutions are going to be taxed in those 11 countries, and that money will go from the U.S. to provide jobs and healthcare in those countries. Shouldn’t we have that money here in the U.S. to support our basic needs such as jobs, housing and ending AIDS?” 

“The internet tax bill hopefully shows the stranglehold on new revenue streams may finally be ebbing,” said Amanda Devecka-Rinear of National People’s Action. “Let’s go to the biggest untaxed source, Wall Street, and produce some real revenue.”

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