Public Citizen Applauds U.S. Rep. Van Hollen’s Inclusion of a Financial Transaction Tax in His Action Plan to Increase Tax Fairness

Statement of Susan Harley, Deputy Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a ranking member of the House Budget Committee, today laid out his proposal to increase tax equity for working families.

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen should be applauded for including a Wall Street tax (also called a financial transaction tax or financial speculation tax) as a key part of his action plan to address tax fairness.

The plan contains tax code changes designed to benefit working-class families over the wealthy. Van Hollen proposes to pay for the tax cuts for individuals by instituting a “high roller” fee to curb Wall Street speculation. Van Hollen made the commonsense suggestion that the U.S. should “move forward in concert” with European countries that are poised to institute an expected 0.1 percent tax on financial transactions.

It’s wonderful to see Rep. Van Hollen champion a fee on Wall Street trades as a way to level the tax playing field for working Americans. This is an easy way to raise hundreds of billions in revenue while slowing down the kind of high-speed trading that helped lead to the spring 2010 flash crash that was a large reason the stock market plummeted 1,000 points in a few minutes. We and our allies look forward to working with the lawmaker and other leaders in Congress to get a Wall Street speculation tax passed.

Also welcome in Rep. Van Hollen’s plan is a proposal to limit a deduction now taken by companies that pay executives more than $1 million in annual compensation, a figure that Congress has already declared an unnecessary business expense. Loopholes in the current law permit companies to deduct as a business expense the payment of more than $1 million if it is considered “performance based.”

Details of the action plan are still being discussed, but what was unveiled today is a great starting point for all upcoming tax and budget negotiations in the 114th Congress.