Making Bankers Pay

| Tue Dec. 8, 2009 12:07 AM EST

The British government aims to get tough with bankers making big bonuses at bailed-out banks:

Alistair Darling will try to force a "permanent culture shift" in the City as he announces a one-off punitive super-tax of more than 50% on the bonuses of tens of thousands of bankers as the centrepiece of the pre-budget report.

....The tax will be set higher than the 50% income tax rate coming in from April for those earning more than £150,000 a year [about $250,000 –ed], sources indicate.1

....But City accountants said there was a strong likelihood of a legal challenge against a punitive tax aimed at one sector of the workforce. Bill Dodwell, head of taxation at accountants Deloitte said: "We have had calls from bankers asking about what action they might take under the Human Rights Act. There's never been a precedent."

Hey, this means that conservatives might finally find something they like about the EU Convention on Human Rights!  Assuming, of course, that they can convince a judge that making bankers pay high taxes on high incomes is a violation of human rights.  Seems a stretch to me, but I know zilch about EU law or the British implementation of it.  Anyone who knows more should feel free to chime in.

1Just so you know, Darling announced a few months ago that the basic tax rate for income above £150,000 would rise from 40% to 50% starting next April.  The new super tax would be above and beyond that.