Could A “Transaction Tax” Be A Good Thing?

Whatever the cause, ultimately, investors’ inability to hold stocks for the long-term is damaging for the market and investors. Simply churning stocks all day long or even holding them for only a few months will not lead to a growing and robust equity market.


Right Solution For The Wrong Reason

One of the proposals by Democratic candidates, and hinted at by the current Biden Administration, is a “Financial Transaction Tax (FTT).”

An FTT is a proposal to place a “tax” on buying and selling a stock, bond, or other financial contracts like options and derivatives. Taxing stock trading is not new. America already has an FTT, albeit extremely small: currently set at roughly 2 cents per $1,000 traded

According to the Brookings Institute, there are many problems with an FTT, harming savers and investors, reducing economic growth, and failing to raise the promised revenue by driving activities to lower-taxed areas overseas.

An FTT is a wrong proposal to solve the Government’s persistent overspending problem. However, it could reapply a “brake pedal” to slow over-trading by individuals. It also could discourage hedge funds from more predatory practices. Such could improve holding periods and longer-term returns.

The Wall Street Journal reported that online brokerages see record spikes in new accounts and trading activity in recent months. The authors argue this trend is due in part to the industrywide move to zero-commission trading. Platforms like E*Trade and Robinhood exacerbate this trend by providing individual investors to trade with few restrictions.

“Many are young and first-time traders confronting the first economic downturn of their professional lives. Yet with free trading at their fingertips and massive online communities with which to discuss trading ideas, many figure they have little to lose.

Research shows that individual investors tend to underperform the broader market, in part because of frequent trading. That hasn’t stopped scores of traders from taking the plunge.” – WSJ


Slowing It Down

As discussed previously, the selling of customer data provides high-frequency trading firms the ability to front-run retail investors.

“If people can find trading patterns and use that to make money, then fair play to them, but they should not be able to do that by selling information that does not belong to them. If they do not sell the information to anyone else, that reduces the scope for front running.” – Financial Times

The removal of payment for order flow, and a return to a transaction fee, remains the most sensible option. But, an FTT could accomplish the same.

“Proponents and opponents alike agree that an FTT would reduce high-frequency trading, or HFT. The profit margins on these individual trades are typically small—for example, profit margins could be as little as a few cents in a heavily traded stock. An FTT would make these trades unprofitable and drastically reduce, or even eliminate, HFT activity.” – Tax Foundation

View single page >> |

Disclaimer: Click here to read the full disclaimer. 

How did you like this article? Let us know so we can better customize your reading experience.


Leave a comment to automatically be entered into our contest to win a free Echo Show.