There’s a fantastic piece of tax legislation being discussed in the UK at the moment – the notion of a Robin Hood Tax on banks. This would apply to speculative (i.e., non-individual customer) transactions, and tax a tiny amount of the money made in the transaction for use in helping developing countries. To quote the website setup to promote it:
The Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax on bankers that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change, at home and abroad.
By taking an average of 0.05% from speculative banking transactions, hundreds of billions of pounds would be raised every year.
That’s easily enough to stop cuts in crucial public services in the UK, and to help fight global poverty and climate change.
The primary site for the Robin Hood Tax is at www.robinhoodtax.org.uk. You can find quite a bit about it by Googling for Robin Hood Tax; there’s a brief piece here too. There’s a great advertisement that Bill Nighy has contributed his time to on Youtube, which I’ve linked to at the end of the article.
This is such a great and simple idea that it deserves serious consideration in more than just the UK. Take for instance, Australia. Our four main banks have been raping and pillaging the Australian consumer for years, charging exorbitant fees for the hell of it, and raking in huge profits, even during the global financial crisis. Not only that, they’re now actively talking about plans to increase their interest rates further beyond the official interest rates because (boo hoo) they aren’t making enough money. As an example, let’s look at the statement from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on their half-yearly profits, released just yesterday (10 February 2010):
The Group’s Net Profit After Tax (“NPAT”) (“statutory basis”) for the half year ended 31 December 2009 was $2,914 million, which represents an increase of 36 percent on the prior period. NPAT (“cash basis”) for the half year was up 54 percent on the prior comparative period to $2,943 million.
So in half a year during one of the worst economic downturns in history for the world (with Australia somewhat insulated), they still managed to rake in almost 3 billion dollars.
Bring the Robin Hood Tax to Australia, I say. Let’s see some of those obscene profits used for good. If you’re interested in this, join the Facebook group.