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EU Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) Update

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An Update for Irish Financial Institutions

Readers of EU FTT news updates could be forgiven for losing track of the exact status of the FTT initiative. No sooner does one story claim that the project is dying than another publication reports that EU FTT is alive and well and moving towards implementation. So what is the factual position? And how does it affect Irish financial institutions?

Current Status
The most recent significant event was the statement, on 6 May, by ten participating Member States (“PMSs”)1 setting out their intentions to reach agreement in 2014, on a proposal to be implemented by 1 January 2016. The EY Global FTT team released a comprehensive client alert assessing the statement’s content and implications, which can be read at the following link:

Global Tax Alert – FTT

Potential Effects
As explained in the client alert, it is apparent that if or when an EU FTT is introduced, then at a high level:

  1. Institutions (and, indirectly, their customers) would all suffer increased transaction costs in relation to in-scope instruments issued in the participating member states (“PMSs”).
  2. Irish financial institutions involved in in-scope transactions may have an operational role to play in the collection of the tax (whether through tax law obligations or contractual duties to counterparties).2
  3. For in-scope transactions, both financial institutions have joint and several liability for each other’s FTT, giving rise to a further source of counterparty risk.

Although mid-2014 may be too early for some organisations to take substantive action, the real prospects for EU FTT mean that monitoring of the proposals and early thinking on their potential effects would be highly advisable.

What next
The ten PMSs’ aim is to agree a near-final draft directive before the end of 2014. Failing this, a 1 January 2016 start date would look less likely. If it is achieved, there will be greater clarity on the scope of this wholly new tax.

If you wish to discuss the EU Financial Transaction Tax proposals further please contact the following or your usual EY contact:
Ray O’Connor
Tel: +353 (0)1 221 2802

Aidan Walsh
Tel: +353 (0)1 221 2578

1. France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Austria, Slovakia, Estonia and Greece. Slovenia had initially committed to the project but did not sign the 6 May statement.
2. Currently proposed at a minimum rate in each PMS of 0.01% of nominal for derivatives and 0.1% otherwise.

Ray O’Connor

FS Partner, Tax
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