WASHINGTON (7/10/13)--D. Arnie Arnesen of WNHN 94.7FM, Concord, N.H., invited the Credit Union National Association's Paul Gentile to go on air Tuesday to discuss a BUZZFLASH.COM headline that recently blared, "Monopolistic Too-Big-to-Fail Banks Try to Crush Credit Unions as Competition by Removing Tax Exemption."
During a 30-minute segment of "Attitude with Arnie," Arensen asked Gentile to address claims by banks that the credit union tax exemption gives "unfair advantage" to "large" credit unions.
Gentile explained that credit unions find the charge "ridiculous." He put it into perspective for the radio audience by noting that of the nation's four largest banks, each one, individually, is greater in asset size than the entire credit union system. In fact, the credit union system represents 6% of the financial services marketplace.
"So portraying us as big-growth credit unions, taking over the marketplace, just is not true," Gentile said. He said the banks really are taking issue with competition.
"Wherever credit unions exist, we make banks more competitive--so even bank customers benefit" from the existence of credit unions' generally better rates and lower fees, he noted.
Gentile also made the points that:
Everyone can join a credit union, though not everyone can join every credit union;
Consumers should go to CUNA's consumer website, aSmarterChoice.org, to answer three simple questions to find a credit union they are eligible to join; and
Credit unions are financial cooperatives created to serve the credit and savings needs of their members. Being member-owned and not-for-profit means they are not driven by a need to provide profits for shareholders.
Gentile, who is CUNA's executive vice president for strategic communications and marketing, drove home the point that if the credit union tax exemption were to "go away, credit unions would go away" and consumers would lose.
Arensen noted that with the credit union tax exemption, it is the American "little guy" who benefits.
The leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), have asked their Senate colleagues to be ready to tackle a tax reform vote early this fall. The committee plans to take a "blank slate" approach to a bill, which would remove all tax expenditures from the code and would add back in those that make the grade.
All proposed language for a bill must be submitted for the committee's consideration by July 26.
Early this year, CUNA and the state credit union leagues launched a groundbreaking 'Don't Tax My Credit Union!' grassroots advocacy campaign to support the credit union tax status. It combines CUNA's traditional efforts of such things as email-writing drives, with new social media and online outreach efforts.
For more CUNA/league advocacy resources, use the resource links.