April 22, 2010

IMF proposes two big new bank taxes to fund bail-outs

Global impact

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It was agreed at the G20 summit in London last year that financial institutions and not tax-payers should pay for future bank rescue packages.

Since then several proposals have been put forward by various governments including the so-called “Tobin Tax” on financial transactions. Some nations, including Canada, oppose any new bank taxes.

However no country has yet introduced taxes to pay for future bailouts – arguing that unless the rules were brought in on a coordinated basis, institutions would simply “cherry pick” where they operated, moving to jurisdictions with less tough financial regulation.

The body which represents banks in the UK, the British Bankers’ Association said it was concerned about any move which would place the UK industry “at a competitive disadvantage internationally”.

“We also need to see all the detail of what is proposed – and how any new levy and tax would apply – to determine the effect it would have”, it said.

Party claims

In the light of the UK’s looming general election, the IMF proposals were likely to be used for some political point-scoring, our business editor said.

“Labour is bound to claim that the IMF is implicitly criticising the Tories’ plan to impose a new tax on banks irrespective of what other countries do – because the IMF paper says that ‘international co-operation would be beneficial’.

“I would also start to question my sanity if Gordon Brown doesn’t claim credit for putting pressure on the IMF to launch its review of possible bank taxes.”

But he added that the Conservatives would say that their bank tax proposals resembled the financial stability contribution.

And the Liberal Democrats would claim that their proposed tax on banks’ profits was similar to the second tranche of the IMF proposal.


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