Just a couple of years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine non-governmental organisations campaigning for a financial transaction tax (FTT) as among the world’s greatest influences in tax.
But in January 2013, 11 EU member states were given the green light to implement the FTT. Now four of the five biggest economies in Europe are signed up to introducing what was once considered to be a radical, fringe idea.
“It was a historic moment for FTT campaigners around Europe who’d witnessed the tax move from political backwater to brink of reality,” says Simon Chouffot of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign (RHTC). “It was proof that member states can act to ensure banks pay for the damage they caused. The 11 countries involved make up 90% of eurozone GDP, 66% of EU GDP.”
The UK is notable in its opposition to the FTT. This makes the British-based RHTC - which has attracted the support of hundreds prominent business leaders, economists and celebrities from around the world - even more important as it continues to pile pressure on the government to join its European neighbours in adopting the FTT.
“In a year where banks were mired in some of the biggest scandals in the history of banking, the tax remains popular amongst the European electorate,” says Chouffot. “Bank lobbyists have been scrambled to fight a rearguard action - realising it is too late for the proposal to be rejected they are attempting to water down the FTT proposal. Campaigners have focused on ensuring this will not happen.”
Named after the English folk hero who took from the rich to give to the poor, it is the RHTC’s mission to see an FTT which taxes the banks to generate billions in revenue to fight climate change and relieve poverty in the UK and abroad.
“2013 was the year in which the FTT moved from being a great idea to a political reality,” says Chouffot. “The 11 states should be congratulated for standing up to the might of the financial sector and committing to implement a moderate and proven tax that will ensure the financial sector contributes towards the costs of the crisis they precipitated.”
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|The Global Tax 50 2013|
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