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Innovative 'Don't Tax' Efforts To Build Support In Congress
MADISON, Wis. (9/3/13)--
Click to view larger image Dannemora FCU, Plattsburgh, N.Y., put a face to some of the 96 million members who would be negatively impacted if Congress decides to take away credit unions' tax status.  The credit union's "I am 1 of 96 Million" Don't Tax My Credit Union Photo Campaign aims to capture some of the individual members, whose photos are posted on its Facebook page.  For the full effect, check out the Facebook page here.
(Photos provided by Dannemora FCU)
Credit unions were working hard in their districts to convince lawmakers to support the credit unions' tax status as part of the national "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign. Efforts were paying off, with more congressional delegates committing to preserving the corporate income tax-exempt status of credit unions.
 
Among the latest was U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), who stated his support for credit unions' tax status in a reply letter to a constituent dated Wednesday.  He specifically highlighted the structure and benefits of credit unions in the First District, which he represents.
 
"The First Congressional District...is one of the most rural and poorest congressional districts in the nation," wrote Butterfield. "As your representative, I support credit unions receiving tax exempt status in order to continue the delivery of financial services to those you may find in the First District, and to people that large banking institutions may find financially undesirable." He added he "will do what I can to ensure credit unions continue to receive tax exempt status."
 
Click to view larger image U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) is flanked by credit union advocates from Spokane, Wash., who presented her with thick binders of information from voters who support credit unions. "We brought you a present today, from more than 13,000 of your constituents," said Tom Johnson, president/CEO of Spokane Teachers CU. The binders contained 762 letters and petitions signed by 13,575 Eastern Washington residents who want Congress to know that they love their tax-exempt status credit unions just the way they are, said the Northwest Credit Union Association  (Anthem Recap Aug. 30). (Photo provided by the Northwest Credit Union Association)
Some of the efforts used by credit unions to get their point across have been creative. Dannemora FCU, based in Plattsburgh, N.Y., posted photos of individuals posing by a sign that says "I am 1 of 96 Million" members. Each photo also includes the member's name, alongside a "Don't Tax My Credit Union" poster. The growing number of photos posted (57 as of Friday) presents a compelling visual of faces of people benefiting from credit unions' tax status.
 
Credit unions also are conducting in-district office meetings with lawmakers to push the need to preserve credit unions' tax status. In Pennsylvania, Danville-based M-C FCU CEO Jim Barbarich and Retail Operations and Member Business Director Brian Wiktor and Pennsylvania Credit Union Association Vice President of Governmental Affairs Christina Mihalik met with U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) in his district office (Life is a Highway Aug. 28).

The meeting focused on the implications of credit union taxation and the obstacles credit unions face with the current regulatory environment. PCUA said Marino was sympathetic to the challenges small financial institutions like credit unions face through growing regulatory complexities and government overreach.
 
Click to view larger image
U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), right, met with Williamsport, Pa.-based Horizon FCU CEO Traci Donahue and Board member Paul Nyman after a roundtable meeting of business members of the Clinton County Economic Partnership with Thompson and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) (Life is a Highway Aug. 28). Also attending: Lock Haven Branch Manager LeAnna Harter and Marketing/Communications Coordinator Judy Harris. Nyman took the liberty of "pinning" Thompson with a "Don't Tax My Credit Union" button. (Photo provided by Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
Others are taking to the media to get the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" point across.  In the Charlotte Business Journal (Aug. 28) John Radebaugh, president/CEO of the North Carolina Credit Union League, which will merge with the South Carolina Credit Union League on Jan. 1, used the interview about the merger to discuss the top policy issue for credit unions: tax reform.
 
"Credit unions are exempt from federal corporate income tax, and they pass those savings on," Radebaugh told the publication. "So we're being very proactive about educating our congressional legislators on the benefits of that exemption.  It's good policy to have a nonprofit financial system in the U.S. That's really our huge focus.
 
"Regulatory burden continues to take its toll--complying with a never-ending stream of regulation. We're making sure we have regulations that make sense. But our main focus has been the tax exemption," he added.
 
Click to view larger image Even when the topic of tax reform isn't on the agenda, credit unions take advantage of meetings with congressional delegates during the recess. For example, Credit Union Association of the Dakotas Vice President of Advocacy Jeff Olson was invited to participate in an invitation-only roundtable with U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), shown speaking, Aug. 21 (CUAD Memo Aug. 22). The Dakotafest centered on the Farm Bill and crop insurance, but Olson said he got the opportunity to visit briefly with the congresswoman about tax reform and the House Ways and Means Committee's work on tax reform. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas)
Meanwhile, key legislators overseeing Congress' tax code reform legislation will stop in Memphis, Tenn., Sept. 9, as part of their national tax reform tour. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) will conduct a kitchen table conversation at the Sullivan Family Farm, where they will hear about the family's experiences navigating the tax code and managing the farm's finances.

Then they will tour the FedEx Express World Hub and hold a roundtable discussion with the company and customers from the small-business community, discussing how the tax code affects the way businesses operate and how tax reform could help businesses grow, create jobs and increase wages.
 
For more on the Credit Union National Association's and state leagues' campaign, go to www.donttaxmycu or use the links.
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