Democratic gubernatorial candidate would tax sale of stocks, bonds

Brad Bumsted
| Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, 12:27 p.m.

HARRISBURG — A Democratic candidate for governor on Tuesday proposed a temporary tax on the sale of stocks and bonds to generate money to reduce Pennsylvania's $49 billion liability for state and school retirees' pension funds.

Max Myers, a Mechanicsburg minister, called for a Financial Transaction Tax on financial instruments. Dozens of countries have such a tax, Myers said.

Such a tax would provide stability for pension funds so retirees on fixed incomes could get regular cost-of-living increases, he said. Savings that school districts realize through reduced pension payments could be used to cut property taxes, Myers claimed.

“When you buy a car, you pay a sales tax of 6 to 8 percent, depending on where you live in Pennsylvania. That's $1,200 to $1,600 for a $20,000 car. But when wealthy people and stock market speculators buy a company's stock or bonds, they pay no sales tax on that purchase,” Myers said.

The actual rate of the proposed tax would depend how quickly the Legislature wants to pay off pension liabilities, he said.

Asked how he thinks he could, if elected, get lawmakers to approve a plan in what is a Republican-controlled General Assembly, Myers said it's “a good question,” adding that seniors and others would demand it as the public increasingly becomes aware of the state's pension crisis.

Higher costs on transactions paid by ordinary Pennsylvanians saving for retirement would be a fraction of the cost of selling stocks or bonds, he said.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol writer. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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