NEW ORLEANS (3/4/08)--Louisiana's banks are stirring up the taxation debate in an article in New Orleans City Business (March 3) about the battle between bankers and credit unions. In the article, "Battle Lines," Shell New Orleans FCU and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) explain that credit unions deserve their tax-exempt status, based on their not-for-profit, democratically elected structure. It cites statistics from The Credit Union National Association (CUNA): Of the nation's $13.5 trillion in assets, credit unions make up 5.6% of the market, with combined assets of $760 billion. CUNA also notes there are more banks than credit unions--8,561 vs. 8,334, respectively. Datatrac, a Milwaukee-based market research firm, reports credit unions offer more favorable interest rates than banks for deposit accounts and most consumer loans and mortgage loan products, says the article. The banks claim that the tax exemption allows credit unions to lower their rates and provide unfair competition and that credit unions have lost sight of their original mission. Shell New Orleans FCU, which originally was chartered to serve employees at Shell Oil Co., has widened its charter so "we're now allowed to service anyone living, working, worshipping or attending school in Orleans or Jefferson Parish (County)," Michelle Duhe, CEO, told the newspaper. She noted that "our tax-exempt status is fair because we don't have a paid board. Banks have stockholders who receive dividends and a paid board of directors." The article also quotes the Louisiana Bankers Association and the American Bankers Association. To access the full article, use the link.