Mnuchin expresses concerns about proposed taxes on financial trades

Mnuchin expresses concerns about proposed taxes on financial trades
© Aaron Schwartz

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico | Senate Dems launch probe into Trump tax law regulations | Trump announces Fed nominees Senate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations Treasury watchdog to investigate Trump opportunity zone program MORE on Thursday said he has a number of worries about financial transaction taxes (FTTs) — taxes on Wall Street trades that are being proposed by progressive Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates.

"I am very concerned that that would destroy our capital markets, and the cost to American holders of mutual funds would bear the majority of the cost," Mnuchin said at a House Financial Services Committee hearing.

Progressives, including Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersEx-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Former Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball rips Warren over feud with Sanders MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenEx-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Former Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball rips Warren over feud with Sanders MORE (D-Mass.), have called for small taxes on trades of stocks, bonds and derivatives. Warren has floated an FTT to help pay for her "Medicare for All" plan, while Sanders is considering one to pay for his tuition-free college and student debt cancellation package.

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Supporters of taxes on financial trades argue that these taxes would target wealthy investors and would help to reduce inequality and inefficiencies in the financial markets.

But during Thursday's hearing, Republican lawmakers brought up the Democratic proposals for FTTs, calling them problematic.

"The reality is that average everyday investors, especially mutual fund investors and those that are saving for retirement, will be severely impacted by this nefarious tax," said Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryMnuchin expresses concerns about proposed taxes on financial trades Fed's top regulator takes heat from both parties NC rep explores Tillis primary challenge MORE (N.C.), the top Republican on the Financial Services Committee.

Rep. Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerGroup of veterans call on lawmakers to support impeachment, 'put country over politics' Mnuchin expresses concerns about proposed taxes on financial trades Fed's top regulator takes heat from both parties MORE (R-Mo.) also expressed concerns that an FTT would hurt ordinary Americans. She argued that "a financial transactions tax has already been tried internationally, and the results have been very poor."

Mnuchin said that Treasury has "committed to do some work internally and on an interagency basis to study this to see if we can try to come up with some research on what the impact would be."

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Mnuchin said he thinks that an FTT could lead to financial activity moving from the U.S. to places such as London and Hong Kong. He also said it would be a "burden on economic growth, and more importantly, it would be a burden on all the American taxpayers who already pay taxes and hold mutual funds and have their savings and their retirement in mutual funds."

Additionally, Mnuchin said that the United States' borrowing costs would increase if an FTT were imposed on government securities.

Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanTrump-Pelosi trade deal creates strife among progressives The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — GOP, Democrats square off at final impeachment hearing Live coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing MORE (D-Calif.) said that there are pros and cons with FTTs but that the concerns Wagner has "would be avoided with a wealth tax." He offered to put Wagner in touch with the economists who are helping Warren with her wealth tax proposal.

Wagner replied, "I can't wait for that debate."