ICBA Urges Bankers to Take Credit Union Fight Local.
Byline: David Baumann
Taking the adage that "All politics is local" to heart, the Independent Community Bankers of America is urging bankers to submit to their local newspapers a boilerplate op-ed blasting the credit union tax exemption.
"Community bankers can make their voices heard in local news media with a new customizable op-ed on the mission creep of tax-exempt credit unions," the ICBA said on its website.
Lobbying over tax reform has been fierce. The House Ways and Means Committee is on the verge of approving its version of a tax reform-cut bill. So far, the credit union tax exemption has survived.
ICBA President Camden Fine sent a letter to Ways and Means Committee leaders saying that bankers support many provisions of the House bill. However, in the letter, Fine also laments the fact that the committee's bill did not cut the credit union exemption.
"They are the equivalent of banks and should be taxed equivalently," he told panel leaders. "We hope you will revisit this issue as the process moves forward."
And in its analysis of the House tax reform bill, the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation notes the credit union exemption. It goes on to state, "While significant differences between the rules under which credit unions and banks operate have existed in the past, most of those differences have disappeared over time."
The Senate Finance Committee is expected to release its bill as soon as Thursday.
Those are just the first steps in the tax reform fight.
Credit union trade groups have been lobbying members, with local credit union delegations visiting with their lawmakers. Banking lobbyists have done the same.
The ICBA boilerplate op-ed allows bankers to localize the opinion piece.
With the headline, "Now is the Time to Revoke the Credit Union Free Ride," the op-ed begins, "As a community banker here in [TOWN NAME] and a taxpayer like most everyone else, I'm concerned that certain tax-exempt financial institutions are looking to exploit these online connections for corporate gain."
The op-ed contends that NCUA Chairman J. Mark McWatters wants to further blur the line between banks and credit unions by broadly increasing their fields of membership.
It goes on to state that requiring credit unions to pay "their fair share" would put all financial institutions on a level playing field.
"Credit union tax dollars would also go a long way in [COMMUNITY/CITY NAME] and communities across the nation," the op-ed states.