On February 13, the “Let Wall Street Pay for Wall Street’s Bailout Act of 2009” (Act) was introduced by U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. The Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Code) by imposing a tax on substantially all securities or futures transactions effected on a national securities exchange, other trading facility or futures exchange to the extent required to recoup the net cost of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). If adopted in its proposed form, the tax could represent a material cost increase to securities and futures traders who deal in any volume, such as hedge funds or prop traders, particularly those with high-frequency, high-volume quantitative strategies.  

The Act inserts a new Subchapter C of Chapter 36 of the Code that imposes a tax on each covered securities transaction in an amount equal to the applicable percentage of the value of the security involved in the transaction. The “applicable percentage” is the lesser of (i) 0.25% and (ii) the percentage that would result in aggregate revenue to the Treasury equal to the net cost of TARP. A “covered securities transaction” is (i) any transaction conducted on a national securities exchange for which the exchange must pay fees under subsection (b), (c), or (d) of section 31 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 or (ii) any transaction subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The tax imposed by the Act will be paid by the trading facility on which the covered securities transaction occurs.