Financial Taxes and the Sand in the Wheels of Financialization: Legal Challenges for the EU Directive Implementing Enhanced Cooperation in the Area of Financial Transaction Tax

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Abstract

One of the many results of the Global Financial Crisis was the insight that the financial sector is under-taxed compared to other industries. In light of the huge bailouts and continued subsidies for financial institutions that are characterized as too-big-to-fail demands came on the agenda to make finance pay for the mega-crisis it caused. The most prominent examples of such taxes are a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) and a Financial Activities Tax (FAT). Possible effects of such taxes on the economic constitution and increasingly in particular on the European Single Market have been discussed controversially over the last decades already. Especially with the decision of eleven EU member states to adapt an FTT using the enhanced cooperation procedure a number of additional legal challenges for implementing such a tax have emerged. This paper analyzes how tax measures of indirectly regulating the financial industry differ, what legal challenges they pose, and what their overall contribution would be in making the financial system more stable and resilient. It also analyzes the legal arguments against enhanced cooperation in this area and the legal issues related to the British lawsuit against the Commission’s Directive proposal in the European Court of Justice on grounds of the extra-territoriality application of tax. The paper concludes that the feasibility of an FTT is legally sound and given the FTT’s advantages over a FAT the EU Directive should be implemented as a first step for a European-wide FTT. However, significant uncertainties about its implementation remain at this stage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-653
Number of pages35
JournalEuropean Review of Public Law
Volume25
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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