Executive pay has been a delicate issue in the United States where the Obama administration's "Pay Czar," Kenneth Feinberg, has been asked to keep bonuses for top financial managers disciplined without driving off top talent.
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However, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have been more blunt about exacting a toll on the financial firms that required taxpayer bailouts.
The United Kingdom on Wednesday announced plans to levy an immediate 50% tax on discretionary bonuses greater than 25,000 pounds, or about $40,000. The U.K. Treasury estimates the tax will affect 20,000 bankers and bring in about 550 million pounds, or about $894,000,000. However, some bankers have suggested the tax would reap about 4 billion pounds, or $6.5 billion, if firms press ahead with large bonus payouts regardless of the tax, the Financial Times reported.