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January 18, 2010

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Britain not to copy Obama tax on banks

BRITAIN will not copy United States President Barack Obama's tax on banks that were bailed out by the taxpayer, Treasury chief Alistair Darling said in an interview published on Saturday.

Obama is proposing a tax of 0.15 percent on the liabilities of large financial institutions in a bid to recoup at least US$90 billion spent rescuing the sector from collapse.

Darling told The Scotsman newspaper that Britain was not considering a similar plan.

"No, we are not," he was quoted as saying.

"The Americans are doing something different."

Instead, Britain is imposing one-off 50 percent levy on bank bonuses above 25,000 pounds (US$40,700). It has also introduced a new 50 percent tax rate for top earners.

The British government took stakes in the banks it bailed out, forking out some 850 billion pounds in taxpayer money, substantially more than the cost of US intervention. Darling said Britain would recoup the money by selling those stakes at the right time - but he said that was "some years" away.

On Friday, London Mayor Boris Johnson warned that thousands of high-earning bankers would flee London because of the government's tax on bonuses. Prime Minister Gordon Brown acknowledged on Saturday that the levy on bonuses "has caused us huge difficulties because people then say 'well, why shouldn't I move to another country?'"


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