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aSmarterchoice to Get Even 'Smarter' in 2014

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WASHINGTON (1/2/14)--aSmarterChoice.org, the Credit Union National Association's consumer website, is undergoing a structural redesign to build a more responsive application on mobile phones and tablets.
 
The website was launched in 2011 by CUNA and state credit union associations to provide information on credit unions to potential members and to press professionals.
 
CUNA also is working to augment the site in early 2014 with content in the form of a blog and more articles on financial literacy. 
 
"The goal is to encourage return visitors to the site, folks who will do more than just search for a credit union through the finder.  They will actually complete the process of becoming a credit union member because they understand and appreciate our value proposition as compared to other financial institutions," said Pat Keefe, vice president of CUNA communications.
 
Keefe said CUNA will execute a test phase of the changes early in January, to closely be followed by a Jan. 6 official unveiling of the improvements.

NEW: NCUA Reg Alert Covers QM Rule

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/2/14, UPDATED: 3:20 P.M. ET)--Credit unions that make closed-end consumer loans secured by a dwelling must comply with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new Ability-to-Repay/Qualified Mortgage (ATR/QM) rule for loan applications received on or after Jan. 10, the National Credit Union Administration reminds in its first Regulatory Alert on 2014.

The rule requires credit unions to assess a member's ability to repay for virtually all closed-end residential mortgage loans secured by the member's dwelling and provides your credit union with certain protections from legal liability for compliance with the rule, the agency said in a release.

The NCUA alert includes details on:
  • Which loans are covered by the rule;
  • Basic ability-to-repay requirements;
  • How QMs provide a safe harbor;
  • The different types of QMs;
  • Caps on QM points and fees;
  • How QMs protect against liability;
  • What makes a QM loan higher priced;
  • When prepayment penalties are allowed for QM loans; and
  • What other guidance has been made available.
A supervisory letter with compliance guidance for credit unions and instructions for agency examiners will be released soon, the agency added.

NewsNow will feature more on this release in tomorrow's issue.

CompBlog: Federal Register Publishes Integrated Mortgage Disclosure

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WASHINGTON (1/2/14)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's much-anticipated and very dense integrated Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) disclosure final rule has been published in the Federal Register.

The 1,219-page rule is divided between two books of the Federal Register.

Other final rules issued just ahead of the end of the year included:
  • Home Mortgage Disclosure (Regulation C): Adjustment to Asset-Size Exemption Threshold;
  • Truth in Lending (Regulation Z): Adjustment to Asset-Size Exemption Threshold; and
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act Disclosures.
For more on these releases in the Credit Union National Association's CompBlog, use the resource link.

Call for FATCA Repeal Could Gain Momentum

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WASHINGTON (1/2/14)--Congressional opposition to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) continues to grow in the U.S., and the Republican National Committee (RNC) this month is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution supporting FATCA repeal at its upcoming winter meetings.
 
Eight members of the RNC's Resolution Committee have agreed to be co-sponsors of the RNC "Resolution to Repeal FATCA." The draft resolution states that FATCA has "inadvertently ensnared every United States citizen living overseas due to its overzealous invasion of privacy and punitive taxation and enforcement."
 
The World Council of Credit Unions supports the adoption of the draft RNC resolution. "We share the concern that FATCA, if left in place, will impose billions of dollars of compliance costs on credit unions and other financial institutions annually," said World Council President/CEO Brian Branch.
 
FATCA is designed to create a tax information reporting and withholding system for certain payments that are made to foreign financial institutions (FFIs) and other entities. Some provisions would apply to U.S. credit unions that make international payments. U.S. credit unions would also be required to identify and withhold on so-called "pass-thru payments" to FFIs involving transfers of U.S.-sourced investment or interest income an FFI that has not yet been subject to taxation.
 
U.S. Internal Revenue Service regulations to implement FATCA also make it harder for U.S. taxpayers to avoid U.S. income taxation by placing funds in overseas accounts. "IRS finalized regulations in early 2013, but the regulations don't start to apply to U.S. credit unions until December 31, 2015 and the real operational impact doesn't start until Jan. 1, 2017, when some credit unions might act as FATCA 'withholding agents' if they provide international electronic payments services--they would be required to withhold 30% on certain transactions members make with foreign financial institutions without certain agreements with the U.S. and to use customer due diligence analyses," said Kathy Thompson, senior vice president for compliance at the Credit Union National Association.
 
If adopted by the Resolution Committee in January, repeal of FATCA would become part of the Republican Party's policy platform and would be poised to become a major issue for Republican congressional candidates in the 2014 election.

Fed Emergency Lending Changes Open For Comment

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WASHINGTON (1/2/14)--The Federal Reserve Board has proposed amendments to rules addressing the emergency lending authority of Federal Reserve Banks, and is accepting comment on these proposed changes.

The Regulation A changes, as detailed in a notice of proposed rulemaking released late last month, are designed to ensure that any emergency lending program or facility is for the purpose of providing liquidity to the financial system, and not to aid an individual failing financial company.

The Fed is accepting comments until March 7.

NCUA Issues Slim December Prohibition Orders

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (1/2/14)--Former District 62 Highway FCU, Hammond, La., employee Lori Bush has been banned from participating in the affairs of any federally insured financial institution under a National Credit Union Administration prohibition made public this week.

Bush entered into a pretrial intervention program after theft charges were brought against her. She will remain in the program until its completion at the end of 2014, at which time the charges will be dismissed, the NCUA said.

Violation of a prohibition order is a felony offense punishable by imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million.

Use the resource link to access all NCUA enforcement orders.