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Oregonians Would Side With CUs On Tax Issue, Says Poll
BEAVERTON, Ore. (2/22/13)--Oregon voters have overwhelming loyalty to credit unions over banks and they largely support the credit union not-for-profit tax exemption, according to a new poll.

Seventy percent of those polled said they agree that because credit unions are not-for-profit, they should not have to pay business or occupation taxes. The telephone survey was conducted by Voter/Consumer Research in late January, with 300 registered Oregon voters, according to the Northwest Credit Union Association.

"Loyalty to credit unions is very high, and this doesn't surprise us given how much money consumers save by leaving their banks," said Troy Stang, president/CEO of NWCUA.

The poll was released as bank lobbyists again pressed the Oregon Legislature to begin imposing a corporate tax on the state's largest credit unions.  Credit unions pay property and payroll taxes but are exempt from state occupation tax. As not-for-profit cooperatives, their earnings are returned to members in the form of lower fees, lower loan rates and higher returns on deposits.

Protecting credit unions' tax exempt status is the top priority for credit unions, leagues and the Credit Union National Association, and will be among the topics discussed during CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference next week in Washington. D.C. The conference begins Sunday and ends with visits to Capitol Hill by more than 4,200 attendees. Use the link for more information.

The results of the Oregon poll suggest that banks' attacks against credit unions won't be popular with the public, said NWCUA.

Other findings:

  • Roughly 90% of Oregonians surveyed have a positive impression of credit unions, with 56% having a favorable opinion of banks. Credit unions have a 96% approval rating among their members.
  • When asked which side they would take if a disagreement between banks and credit unions erupted in the legislature, 71%  of those polled said they would side with credit unions, and 18% said they would side with banks.
Oregon's tax officials estimate that the bank-supported legislation to tax credit unions could generate $1 million to $4 million a year in revenue. However, CUNA estimates that Oregon's working class credit union members saved much more--$121 million in direct benefits during the 12 months ending in September, 2012.

"That's $170 a year in real savings for the average credit union household," Stang said. "That is a benefit bank customers do not enjoy. Our members--teachers, truck drivers, working moms and dads--didn't pay those banking fees and instead invested their savings right back into Oregon's economy," he added.

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