FTT to damage pensions even if exempted

FTT to damage pensions even if exempted

European pension funds will be negatively impacted by the proposed financial transaction tax (FTT) for 11 EU member states even if they were given an exemption, according to Matti Leppala, chief executive of PensionsEurope.

His comments followed the recent decision by the European Court of Justice to dismiss the UK’s challenge against the FTT.

Pension funds are not exempted in the proposed tax, but this could change as the FTT is a long way from being finalised.

“PensionsEurope is deeply concerned about the rationale behind the FTT proposal. If the proposal will be applied in its current form, pension funds will be badly affected by this tax.

"The consequent increase of costs will ultimately be borne by the pension beneficiaries in terms of higher contributions or reduced benefits. There is no cause to ask European pension beneficiaries to pay for the crisis. They did not cause it, but rather they have suffered (a lot) from it."

He said it is “extremely unfair” that pension funds are not exempted since they “will be negatively affected even in the case of finally being granted an exemption.”

Transactions made by pension funds in the financial marke ts would be directly taxed by the FTT.

Leppala said he expected sell-side and intermediate financial institutions taxed by a future FTT would eventually pass the cost onto customers such as pension funds.

“Pension funds, as institutional investors, are customers (buy side) in the financial markets and we therefore fear that, as it is the case with other taxes, the final customer will end up paying for it. PensionsEurope invites the 11 participating member states to dismiss the proposal. However, should the tax be introduced, then pension funds and their asset should be exempted from its application in order to reduce the burden for European pensioners.”

He added that it was important to recognize difference between pension funds and other financial institutions.

“Pension funds are not speculative investors. Pension funds are long-term investors which focus their investments in the long term in order to manage their long-standing liabilities.

"Pension funds did not require any support in terms of funding from public finances during the crisis. They actually contributed to water down the crisis by keeping their long-term liabilities in the financial markets.”

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