Thursday, June 20, 2013 8:40:32 AM

German public show FTT unease

Almost 80% of Germans oppose the European financial transaction tax (FTT) if it hits end investors, a survey has found.

Although 73% of the 1,000 respondents were initially in favour of the tax, upon learning it would hit small investors and savers, 78% said they did not support it.

A total of 19% voiced support of the levy, according to the survey by TNS Infratest on behalf of German sell-side trade body BVI.

"As soon as people understand the effect of a financial transaction tax, a broad majority are against this tax," said Thomas Richter, CEO of BVI.

Richter said the public had little knowledge of the FTT's effect on personal finances and predicted a widespread public backlash against the tax as this fact became clear.

"It's paradoxical to encourage retirement planning with state subsidies on the one hand and to additionally burden such accounts with the financial transaction tax on the other," he said.

A levy on financial transactions developed by 11 EU member states proposes to tax equity and bond transactions at 0.1% and derivatives at 0.01%, although recent speculation has suggested these levels may be reduced.

Although no exemptions have been mooted by supporting member states or the European Commission, the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has put forward a revised plan with a reduced rate for pension funds and transactions in sovereign bonds and small-cap stocks.

Leading industry figures have said the tax will be borne by end-investors and is a punitive measure spawning from the financial crisis of 2008.

Experts have also warned of the FTT's political dimensions. In particular, predictions that support of the tax from Germany could be pulled if Chancellor Angela Merkel is returned to office in September.

Richard Henderson +1 212 217 6916