A bank chief is urging his colleagues to break with President Joe Biden and end a long-running dispute over how much the government will collect from them.
“You can’t be a banker without breaking with the government,” said John D. Moseley, chief executive of Wells Fargo & Harlan Co. “That’s not how we do business.
We’re going to break that.”
Moseley made the comments Monday during an interview on Fox Business Network’s “America’s Finest” in which he reiterated the bank’s belief that it shouldn’t have to pay taxes on profits it makes from mortgages.
Wells Fargo is one of the banks that has argued that it should pay less in taxes than it would if the government did not collect the interest on the loans it holds.
But the president and lawmakers have rejected that argument.
The White House said in January that the government collected about $4.4 trillion from Wells Fargo last year, which it said reflected its $1.8 trillion in profits from mortgages and other debt.
The bank said last week that it expected to pay an estimated $3.5 billion in taxes this year, but that it doesn’t have the revenue to pay those taxes.
The debate has played out for years.
In 2007, the Obama administration proposed to raise the maximum tax rate on investment income, including dividends and capital gains, to 25% from 15%, but Congress rejected the proposal.
In 2016, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers introduced a bill that would have made it even higher.
And the Treasury Department said in May that it would consider increasing the tax on income over $10 million that Wells Fargo received as a result of the crisis.
The administration has repeatedly said it has been able to collect money from banks and other financial institutions for the benefit of consumers and businesses because the federal government has collected billions of dollars in penalties from those who cheated the system.
In his comments to Fox Business, Mosely also said he has not had any discussions with Wells Fargo’s executives about ending the dispute.
He said he would not say how many employees are working at the bank and would not reveal the bank chief’s name.
Biden has called on Wells Fargo to return more money it is owed, saying the bank has a “clear and present danger of default.”
Mosesley, who is now chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said in the Fox Business interview that Wells, like many other banks, has “an incredible reputation for integrity” and that his “long standing belief that Wells should pay no more taxes than they should” was “a very strong stance.”
He said the bank will fight the proposed tax increase by calling on the administration to stop collecting interest payments from its customers.
“They should not have a tax on our customers.
We have no business making a tax,” Mosey said.
“We’re not going to be a bank that doesn’t pay taxes.”