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CUs' 'Don't Tax' Message Resonates
MADISON, Wis. (8/14/13)--State credit union leagues and associations continue carrying the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" message to the media and representatives of their congressional districts. This week saw an opinion-editorial on the credit union tax exemption, two leagues reporting congressional contacts by credit unions in their states, and more visits to congressional district offices.
 
In an opinion-editorial in the Duluth News Tribune (Aug. 9), Minnesota Credit Union Network President/CEO Mark D. Cummins made readers aware that credit unions' tax-exempt status is in danger during federal tax reform.
 
"Eliminating this exemption represents the most serious threat to credit unions--and our communities--that we've ever faced," Cummins wrote, noting that the exemption should be kept because "credit unions support and strengthen communities."
 
As local institutions, credit unions "make their communities their No. 1 priority--above making a profit," Cummins wrote. "Any benefits credit unions receive from their tax-exempt status are passed on to their members and their communities. Credit unions also strengthen their communities by paying millions of dollars in property, sales and payroll taxes each year."
 
He cited a Discover U.S. Spending Monitor survey that found members are more confident in the economy and their personal finances than non-members. "What this means is that credit unions help build consumer confidence, leading to stronger communities," he said.
 
Their not-for-profit cooperative structure also provides an alternative to for-profit banks and provides benefits and financial balance, while maximizing their member/owners' financial gain with better rates, reduced fees and customized products. Credit unions "put money back into Minnesotans' pockets," he said, noting that all savings from the tax exemption "are passed on to members, who are owners of their credit unions.  He also pointed out for every $1 of tax exemption, $10 goes back to members and the communities.
 
Click to view larger image Pennsylvania credit unions met Thursday to support credit unions' tax exemption and discuss regulatory burdens with Char MacDonald, legislative director for U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) at Schwartz's Jenkintown, Pa., office. Schwartz  is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee overseeing tax code reform. From left are:  John King, Freedom CU; MacDonald; Ceil and Joe Grady of American Heritage FCU; and Nate Muniz of PSECU. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
Several leagues reported visits with legislative staff in congressional representatives' district offices.  For example, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, reported visits with two representatives.  See related News Now story: Ways & Means Chair: I Will Look To Relieve CU Burden for a summary of PCUA's visit with House Committee on Financial Services member U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) 
 
Several Pennsylvania credit union leaders met Thursday with Char MacDonald, legislative director for U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) at her Jenkintown office. Discussion primarily focused on the tax code reform and regulatory burdens, said PCUA (Life is a Highway Aug. 9). Schwartz is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has authority over the tax code reform discussions and drafting.  Participating were John King of Freedom CU in Warminster, Ceil and Joe Grady of American Heritage FCU in Philadelphia, Nate Muniz of PSECU in Harrisburg and Christina Mihalik, PCUA association vice president of governmental affairs.
 
Two leagues provided updates on the number of contacts made with congressional representatives by credit unions in their states. 
 
In Maine, credit union staff and volunteers generated more than 2,000 contacts with members of Congress, urging them to keep the credit union tax exemption in place, said the Maine Credit Union League. It "has determined that the time is now for credit unions to engage the state's 630,000 credit union members in the effort.  Maine is one of the strongest cooperative states in the country, and credit unions are the largest co-op so this is an opportunity to demonstrate that strength," said league President John Murphy (Weekly Update Aug. 9).  He noted the league has posters, brochures, sample letters and newsletter articles to assist, as does the Credit Union National Association's microsite, donttaxmycreditunion.org.
 
The Northwest Credit Union Association reported in its Anthem Recap (Aug. 9) that as of Aug. 5, credit union advocates in Washington and Oregon had made 28,000 congressional contacts. "These contacts are making a difference," said NWCUA Vice President of Advocacy Jennifer Wagner, with 14,416 of the messages from Washington and 13,700 filed by Oregon credit union contacts.  Most were made directly through CUNA's donttaxmycreditunion.org site, although many posted in-branch petitions signed by thousands of members.
 
NWCUA advised credit unions to connect with members of Congress during the August congressional recess at community events.  NWCUA also scheduled a "Tweet Tuesday" yesterday calling on members to tweet their Don't Tax My Credit Union message to their representatives in Congress.
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