US bail-out levy a £6bn blow to British banks

Three British banks - Barclays, HSBC and RBS - may have to pay $10 billion (£6 billion) to the US go

This is because they could be subject to the new bail-out tax announced yesterday, the Times has reported.

The hardest hit is Barclays who could face a total bill of $5.6 billion over the next decade, followed by HSBC at $3.8 billion.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is 84 per cent owned by the Government, may get away with paying only $1 billion because in recent months it has reduced its US assets.

The special, ten-year levy introduced by US President Barack Obama will be applicable to British banks which have significant presence and assets in the US. They will have to pay the tax even if they did not receive cash under the bail-out package called the Troubled Asset Relief Programme (Tarp).

The proposed new tax at 0.15 per cent will be charged on bank wholesale-funded divisions from June 30 this year. It will apply to about 50 companies which have over $50bn in assets each.

They will over the next ten years collectively pay about $90bn to the US government as reimbursement for the taxpayer money used in bailing them out of the financial crisis in 2008.

It is understood that Barclays and HSBC are some of the biggest foreign banks in America to be hit by the levy.