Hong Kong's deteriorating employment situation will see banks' ratio of non-performing tax loans rise to 1.5 per cent this year, according to American Express Bank. The ratio, up from 1.25 per cent last year, would still be much lower than that of normal unsecured personal loans, general manager for personal financial services Alan Tsang Hing-lun said. The ratio of non-performing personal loans was forecast to reach 3 per cent this year. Mr Tsang believed banks would be more cautious and adopt more stringent criteria in approving tax-loan applications this year. He still expected a modest 5 per cent growth in the industry's tax loans outstanding this year due to the worsening economic turmoil. American Express Bank yesterday launched its tax-loan product for this year. It features a maximum borrowing amount of $750,000, or twice the borrower's tax bill, and an interest rate as low as 9.5 per cent on an annualised basis.