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NEVADA VIEWS: Financial transaction tax would hurt Nevadans

Working families in Nevada have been through a lot over the past year and a half. Nevada’s economy relies heavily on tourism, and when travel was stunted and lockdowns enacted, I know that every member of our community felt the effects, financially and otherwise.

At the Latin Chamber of Commerce, it is our intention to help local businesses get back to work, and in order to make that happen, we need to make sure that even people who don’t work in Nevada’s businesses see significant protections. This means protecting everyone who keeps our community going, such as firefighters, teachers and other public employees. These are the workers who will help Nevadans get back to work safely.

But it is not enough just to make sure that people have income today as they return to work. We must also ensure that they are rewarded for their dedication and years of service through retirement accounts and pensions that set our workers up for their future. Thus, it is critical that our lawmakers take every step possible to strengthen and protect these essential accounts.

Our lawmakers must also oppose policies that make it harder for our first responders and workers to retire. One idea that has been floated by Sen. Bernie Sanders as a means of paying for some of the Biden administration’s new spending proposals is a tax on financial transactions. All retirement accounts would be subject to this tax. For teachers in particular, this type of tax could be devastating.

Public school teachers are tasked with educating our next generation. And in return, they receive generous benefits in retirement as repayment for years of service. In Nevada’s public school pension plan, retired teachers receive a set number of disbursements each month. This is the least we can do for dedicated public school teachers who have given their careers to teaching and caring for our children.

However, a financial transaction tax threatens this security for teachers. As state pension plans are traded on the stock market, a financial transaction tax would be levied hundreds of times, costing Nevada’s teachers up to $100 million annually. And it’s not just teachers who would be put at a disadvantage. Every public-sector employee would feel the effects of a tax on pensions, from firefighters to police officers to garbage collectors. These are the people who keep our community moving.

Further, virtually every savings fund that is traded on the stock market would be negatively impacted. Private employees aren’t off the hook, paying close to $65,000 over a lifetime on an individual 401(k) account. And parents saving to send their children to college with a 529 plan would see losses, with the average state pension plans owing $5 million or more a year.

And I wish I could say the financial impact on our workers would stop there. But college scholarships would be devastated as university endowments take a hit and any personal investments our workers have made would be damaged, disincentivizing average people from making investments in our capital markets.

The effects of a financial transaction tax would be far-reaching. We cannot justifiably enact a tax that places an extra burden on the shoulders of our public employees and average workers who are helping to get our economy and state back up and running. Our lawmakers should recognize the problems with a financial transaction tax and understand that the unintended consequences will hurt here in Nevada.

Peter Guzman is the president of the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce.

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