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CUNA Nationwide Webinar Rallies CUs For Grassroots Tax Battle

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WASHINGTON (5/23/13)--Credit union efforts will have to be bigger, louder, and stronger than ever to preserve the credit union tax exemption as tax reform discussions gain momentum in the U.S. Congress. In a nationwide webinar Wednesday, the Credit Union National Association urged credit unions to engage their 96 million members and help them join the fight to support the credit union tax status.

"We're talking about delivering one message, millions of times, starting today...and the message is simple; the message to Washington is 'don't tax my credit union," CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said.

He noted that CUNA research has found that two out of three credit union members--potentially 63 million members--are willing to email the U.S. Congress when asked by their credit unions. "We just have to ask them to do so," CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose said.

Credit unions are vying with 400 other groups that are also working to preserve their own tax preference, CUNA staff noted. To ensure that they are heard above the din, CUNA, the leagues, and credit union supporters and members will need to be persistent.

"Our action will need to be sustained at least through the end of the year, perhaps longer. The tax status will not be secure until the process is complete," Cheney said.

CUNA has joined with affiliated state credit union leagues to launch a large-scale, nationwide grassroots-mobilization campaign urging credit union members across the country to deliver a united message to the U.S. Congress: "Don't tax my credit union!"

The campaign is being launched at a time when the U.S. House and Senate have made broad-based tax reform a major priority. The initiative will urge lawmakers as part of any final tax reform plan to preserve the federal tax exemption credit unions receive as not-for-profit, member-owned cooperatives.

"There is no light switch to turn on 96 million activists," Cheney emphasized during the webinar. "The conversation with them needs to begin now," he told the more than 2,000 credit union webinar participants.

To help in member engagement efforts, CUNA suggests credit unions:
  • Encourage members to visit www.DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org where they can watch our educational video and take action to email their member of Congress; 
  • Encourage members to download the CUNA Advocacy App for iPhone and Android smartphones; and,
  • Work with CUNA and their state leagues to set up Vine campaigns in their credit union branches and offices (see CUNA tax advocacy toolkit for more inforamtion on Vine).
More information to help credit unions with these efforts is included in a special CUNA tax advocacy toolkit.

To learn more about CUNA's and the leagues' "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign, use the resource link.

CUNA Seeks CU Remittance Comments In New Survey

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WASHINGTON (5/23/13)--Credit unions can detail how recent changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's final international remittance transfer rule could impact their business practices as they relate to such services they provide to their through a new Credit Union National Association survey.

The survey specifically asks whether the CFPB's recent revisions to remittance rules are sufficient to enable credit unions to continue offering these transfer services to their members. The survey begins with the rule's definition, provides examples regarding remittance transfers and presents questions that reflect the recent CFPB regulatory changes.

Under the final rule, remittance transfer providers are required to provide prepayment and receipt disclosures to the consumer sender that include the exchange rate, certain fees and taxes associated with a transfer, and the amount of money that will be received on the other end of the transfer. Remittance transfer providers will also be required to investigate disputes and correct errors.

Remittance rule changes announced by the agency earlier this month include:

  • Delaying the effective date of the entire rule until Oct. 28;
  • Making optional, in certain circumstances, the requirement to disclose fees imposed by a designated recipient's institution;
  • Making optional the requirement to disclose taxes collected by a person other than the remittance transfer provider; and
  • Revising resolution provisions that apply when a remittance transfer is not delivered to a designated recipient due to sender error.
CUNA advocated for these and a number of other beneficial changes. The CFPB did not revisit the 100 transfers per year exemption threshold.

"Credit union responses will be very helpful as we continue to advocate to important policymakers in an effort to minimize the effects of the Dodd-Frank Act on international remittances. We hope to share the aggregate results with the CFPB, key members of the U.S. Congress, and the National Credit Union Administration board," CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn said.

CUNA has asked that credit unions complete the survey by June 10.

For the survey, use the resource link.

Bipartisan CU MBL Bill Spreads Freedom, CEI Writes

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WASHINGTON (5/23/13)--Credit union member business lending (MBL) legislation should be cheered not just because of its bipartisanship, but because it "spreads freedom" and "lifts regulatory barriers to an untapped source of capital for startups: America's credit unions," Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow for Finance and Access to Capital John Berlau wrote in a recent openmarket.org blog post.

Berlau in his post noted that credit unions have stepped up to fill the funding void felt by many small businesses and startups. "But because of government barriers to credit union business lending, thousands of entrepreneurial ventures may be unnecessarily deprived of the seed capital credit unions could provide to them," he wrote.

U.S. House (H.R. 688) and Senate (S. 968) bills would help rectify this situation by increasing the credit union MBL cap from 12.25% of assets to 27.5%. The Credit Union National Association has estimated that lifting the MBL cap would create 140,000 jobs and inject $13 billion in new funds into the economy, at no cost to taxpayers.

"The modest hike in the lending cap would pay big dividends for entrepreneurs and the economy," Berlau wrote.

S. 968, which was introduced by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) earlier this month, currently has 14 co-sponsors. H.R. 688, introduced by Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and co-sponsor Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), has 94 co-sponsors.

For the full CEI piece, use the resource link.

New Subcommittee Assignments For Two House Financial Services Members

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WASHINGTON (5/23/13)--House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) Wednesday announced new subcommittee assignments for two members of the committee, Reps. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.).

Ross was appointed to fill the vacancy on the housing and insurance subcommittee created by the departure of Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) in February to take a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee.  Ross will continue as a member of the subcommittee on capital markets and government-sponsored enterprises.

Rothfus, who became a member of House Financial Services in April, will serve on the subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit, as well as the subcommittee on oversight and investigations.