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Tax Policy Leaders Continue Field Talks Today

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (7/29/13)--House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) are scheduled to continue their tax-reform, town hall-style field meetings today, visiting two businesses here: third-generation, family-owned Mrs. G's TV & Appliances and The Hub Centers for Meeting and Collaboration, opened in 2004.

The Philadelphia trip is the second in a planned series of such meetings. The lawmakers said in a release the focus today will be on "how a simpler and fairer tax code can help small business and families boost the economy, create jobs and improve wages."

The chairmen of the Senate's two tax-policy panels developed the tour idea to give them a chance to speak with a range of Americans and businesses on tax reform issues--from large multinational corporations to small, family-run businesses, and to individual taxpayers.

Tax policy leaders are taking a "blank slate" approach to reform legislation, and Friday, July 26 was the deadline for senators to submit their tax reform proposals to Finance Committee leaders. The legislators are now expected to begin to build legislation to create a comprehensive proposal for a new U.S. tax code.

With this deadline looming, the Credit Union National Association last week launched "Don't Tax My CU Tuesday," a social media campaign that saw the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" message delivered to more than 875,397 people, including members of Congress and their Twitter followers.

The "Don't Tax My Credit Union messages" included tweets from two congressmen--Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.)--who tweeted back their agreement with the message.

The Tuesday twitter effort was part of the large-scale, nationwide grassroots-mobilization campaign led by CUNA and the leagues. That campaign continues to encourage 96 million credit union members nationwide to present a unified message to members of Congress: Don't Tax My Credit Union!

Actively participating in credit union grassroots activities and the political process is one tenet of CUNA's Unite for Good. Through Unite for Good, CUNA has called on credit unions to rally together to help create a nation in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

For more CUNA/league tax advocacy resources, and more on Unite for Good, use the resource links.

Reg Alert Reminds Of Remittance Requirements, Compliance Deadline

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/29/13)--The National Credit Union Administration has reminded credit unions of recent major changes to the remittance transfer rule by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the upcoming Oct. 28 compliance date, in a new Regulatory Alert (13-RA-06).

Under the 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.

"If your credit union sends money to foreign countries on behalf of members or non-members within your field of membership, you may have to comply with the amended remittance transfer provisions under Regulation E (the Electronic Fund Transfer Act)," the agency said in the alert.

Questions addressed in the NCUA regulatory alert include what types of remittances are covered under the rule, and which credit unions are exempt from the rule. Basic remittance regulation requirements are also addressed.

Credit unions that offer remittance transfer services to their members should take several actions to implement the regulatory requirements prior to the rule's effective date, the NCUA notes. Those actions include:
  • Becoming familiar with the new remittance transfer requirements;
  • Tracking the number of international wire transfers and international ACH transfers your credit union completes each year;
  • Modifying data processing systems, as necessary, to generate proper terms and content for the required disclosures; and
  • Developing and maintaining written policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the error resolution provisions.
The NCUA alert also links to the full text of the final rule, and CFPB compliance resources.

For the full alert, use the resource link.

NCUA Cost Containment, Pay-for-Play In Cheney Report

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WASHINGTON (7/29/13)--In this week's edition of The Cheney Report, Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney speaks up on two recent National Credit Union Administration developments: The agency's Thursday release of its mid-year budget adjustment and Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund assessment, and the ongoing efforts to move forward with a derivatives rule.

The 2013 TCCUSF assessment will be eight basis points, and Cheney says this decision "is welcome news for all credit unions." However, he adds, CUNA also believes that with the strong performance of corporate legacy assets and positive housing and economic trends "this should be the end of corporate assessments.

"We have consistently advocated keeping the assessments as low as possible--if not eliminate them outright--to ease the costs to credit unions," Cheney says.

Reducing expenses wherever possible is another way that the NCUA could limit credit union costs, and the agency did just that last week, reducing its 2013 budget by $2.6 million. This adjustment is a sign that the NCUA has listened to CUNA's suggestion that it "hold the line on or reduce expenses" and hold itself to "the same standards of containing costs that credit unions are held to by their examiners." However, Cheney notes, CUNA thinks "more can be done in the next year, and will continue to push our case."

In the latest Cheney Report, the CUNA CEO also states that the "pay for play" aspect of the NCUA's derivatives proposal "is a slippery slope.

"Make no mistake, CUNA strongly opposes fees for derivatives authority or for any financial activity allowed credit unions by law," Cheney writes.

"While we support the agency's efforts to move forward with a derivatives rule, the fee proposal is a non-starter. In our view, NCUA can develop the expertise necessary to enable it to properly regulate the evolving business model of a credit union without imposing extra charges on credit unions," he adds.

Use the resource link below to access the full Cheney Report.

2014 CDFI, CDRLF Spending Approved By Senate Committee

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WASHINGTON (7/29/13)--The Senate Appropriations Committee late last week approved its appropriations package for fiscal year 2014, which includes $230 million for the U.S. Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund.

That funding level would represent a $20 million increase above the 2013 post-sequester level of $210 million. The CDFI Fund helps locally based financial institutions--including credit unions--offer small business, consumer and home loans in communities and populations that lack access to affordable credit.

A total of $1.2 million in funds would be allocated to the National Credit Union Administration's Community Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDRLF) under the committee budget. The Obama administration has requested $1.127 million in CDRLF funding in its own 2014 budget. A total of $1.144 million in CDRLF funding was approved in the 2013 budget. The CDRLF provides loans and technical assistance to federal and state credit unions that are designated as low-income credit unions, as defined by NCUA regulations.

Last August, the NCUA awarded $1.4 million in technical assistance grants to just over 100 small credit unions through the CDRLF.

The Senate committee spending bill would also allocate $10 million in funds to the Cooperative Development Program (CDP), and $265 million to various microenterprise and microfinance initiatives. The CDP aids the work of credit unions and other cooperatives in developing countries by funding sustainable development assistance carried out by eight U.S.-based cooperative development organizations.

Student debt and lending issues were also noted in the committee appropriations package.

The committee directed the U.S. Treasury to work with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the NCUA and the Federal Reserve "to offer clear guidance consistent with safety and soundness principles recognizing the unique characteristics of private student loans compared to other debt and providing flexibility to lenders working with borrowers to avoid default."

There is over $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, of which $150 billion is in private student loans. More than 850,000 students have defaulted on their private student loans worth more than $8.1 billion, the committee noted.

Gerard Poliquin Is New NCUA Board Secretary

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/29/13)--Gerard Poliquin is the new secretary of the National Credit Union Administration board. He fills the spot vacated recently when Mary Rupp retired after 27 years at the agency.

NCUA Chair Debbie Matz said Poliquin brings a solid NCUA background to the job, having joined the agency in 1996. Most recently he has served as a senior trial attorney. Before moving to the NCUA, Poliquin served as an enforcement attorney at the Office of Thrift Supervision.

NCUA board member Fryzel said in addition to a strong legal background, Poliquin has a technical background as well.

Matz and Fryzel each also praised Rupp, citing her long service and commitment. They noted that for the last nine years as board secretary, she never missed a board meeting.

NEW: Sen. Supports CU Tax Status In Reform Recommendations

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WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 7/29/13, 11:40 A.M. ET)--The tax exempt status of credit unions should be retained in any tax reform effort, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) has told the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee in making his recommendations for tax reform.

"Alaska is far removed from traditional financial centers, and credit unions play an outsized role in our economy," the Senator said in a letter to Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the chairman and ranking member of the Finance Committee, respectively.

Begich said retaining the credit union tax exemption would "ensure continued access to affordable credit for consumers, homebuyers and small businesses alike, all of which contribute substantially to economic growth."

The letter from Begich is dated July 26--the deadline the Finance Committee leaders gave to their Senate colleagues to submit recommendations for what to include on a "blank sheet" as tax preferences under a new tax code.

In making his recommendations, Begich noted that his list of recommendations was not exhaustive. "Instead, I want to focus my response to the Committee on a handful of provisions I consider absolutely critical for Alaska," he wrote.

Begich also offered recommendations with regard to Alaska natives, energy, housing and a number of miscellaneous items--which included credit unions.