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Washington

CUs, Members Pump Up Volume On #Don't Tax Tuesday Two

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WASHINGTON (9/11/13)--There was a credit union advocacy blitz targeted at Capitol Hill yesterday, as credit union supporters from across the country took part in round two of "Don't Tax My Credit Union Tuesday," the major social media push that used Twitter, Facebook and the Credit Union National Association's own DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org websites--in Spanish and English--to get a united message out to lawmakers.

Strong advocacy efforts were seen throughout the day, as individuals, credit unions, credit union leagues and CUNA pushed their tax-status fight online. The heavy participation even crashed the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" website for a brief period, and the #DontTaxMyCU hashtag became a Twitter trending topic in the Missouri area.
Click to view larger image Kristen Christian, who started Bank Transfer Day and continues to be a strong credit union advocate, posted the image above alongside a pro-credit union message on her Twitter feed on Tuesday.

CUNA and credit unions also had a new tool in their tax advocacy kit this time around: A Spanish-language version of the Don't Tax site, www.NoImpuestosAMiCU.org, that told members of Congress "No Le Cobren Impuestos a mi Credit Union" and featured a video message and action center. A Spanish language toolkit is also posted on cuna.org.

Coopera, an Iowa firm that provides credit unions with tools to reach Hispanic markets across America, was one group that actively promoted the bilingual credit union tax advocacy site. One Coopera tweet said "Es tiempo de enviarle un mensaje fuerte al Congreso para proteger a las #creditunions No Le Cobren Impuestos A Mi Credit Union! #DontTaxMyCU" (It's time to send a strong message to Congress: Protect credit unions! Don't Tax My Credit Union!).

More on the bilingual pro-credit union tweets will be featured in Thursday's News Now.

The pro-credit union outreach effort also took on other forms: For instance, the Credit Union Association of New York developed its own Don't Tax My Credit Union video, and others used microvideo site Vine to make short pro-credit union tax status videos. Use the resource link for the CUANY YouTube video or click below.



The Michigan Credit Union League also made a powerful announcement on #DontTaxTuesday: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) added his name to complete the list of all Michigan legislators supporting credit unions, many of whom specifically backed the tax status. (See NewsNow story: Amash Endorsement Makes Michigan CU Support Unanimous.)

Online, Twitter messages ranged from Brittney Caravella's (@brit_nicole2135s) simple request of "#DontTaxMyCU yeah...just don't do it," to Courtney Lyn's (@koptnei37s) post, who wrote "We're not the same as banks; don't tax us like we are" and encouraged her followers to retweet if they belong to a credit union.

Other examples of members across the country that stood up to represent their credit unions include:
  • @fogunited35m said #Creditunions serve working families, small businesses & communities. #DontTaxMyCU to keep financial options available;
  • Clayton Root (@claytonroot24s) said not to tax his credit union "because it invests thousands of dollars each year into Fort Worth and surrounding communities";
  • Denise Losh (@DeniseLosh6m) in a tweet encouraged Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to preserve financial choice for consumers. "Please #DontTaxMyCU @RoyBlunt and protect America's #creditunions!," she wrote; and
  • (@_MusicInMyMind_1m noted that "#SingleParents save easier in #creditunions" and encouraged Florida legislators Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R), Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D) to help out their fellow US citizens.
State leagues also helped coordinate the efforts, providing lists of legislators' Twitter addresses and the #DontTaxMyCU and #DontTaxTuesday hashtags. Many of them also tweeted.

The League of Southeastern Credit Unions used Twitter to remind legislators that "Florida's 4.6 million members love their #creditunions," and the Northwest Credit Union Association wrote that "Credit Unions are rooted in communities with a mission to serve middle class and small businesses."

These two leagues are among those taking the credit union tax fight directly to Congress this week as part of CUNA's fall Hike the Hill activities. Credit union leagues from North and South Carolina, West Virginia, California and Nevada and Utah are also in town this week.

Watch News Now this week for more on credit union advocacy efforts.

CUNA IDs FASB Proposal Concerns As Comment Deadline Nears

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WASHINGTON (9/11/13)--The Credit Union National Association continues to examine and analyze the Financial Accounting Standards Board's proposal that would allow credit unions and other nonpublic business entities to use accounting and reporting alternatives under U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), and CUNA has highlighted two areas of credit union concern in what is largely an otherwise positive proposal.

The FASB proposal, which is out for public comment until Sept. 20, could result in more flexible accounting requirements for nonpublic business entities. However, FASB has acknowledged that whether a private entity is permitted to apply such alternative GAAP standards "may ultimately be determined by regulators."

The proposal would define a public business entity as an organization that meets any one of five criteria, such as that the entity is required to file financial statements with a regulator in preparation of sale of securities.  As proposed, credit unions would not be included within the definition of a public business entity, which is an aspect of the proposal that CUNA supports.

Further, CUNA supports the proposed criteria included in the definition. However, CUNA Senior Assistant General Counsel Luke Martone said, as the proposed definition would include as a PBE certain entities that hold "unrestricted" securities, we ask FASB to clarify exactly what this criteria would include, as well as to clarify that this is not intended to cover credit unions that may hold certain types of securities.

FASB and CUNA continue to accept public comment on this issue. For a CUNA comment call, use the resource link.

Bank Survey Shows Customers Fed Up With Fees

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WASHINGTON (9/11/13)--A recent survey shows bank customers across the country are dissatisfied with the checking account fees they are being charged: 35% of respondents to an AngusReid Public Opinion/TD Bank survey said they have closed a primary checking account or left their bank due to checking account fees, and 36% said they'd likely change banks due to dissatisfaction with the fees they have been charged.

Just over one-fifth of the 3,000 respondents surveyed said their fees had gone up in the past year, and 14% said they had switched their primary financial institution as a result of fee increases. Nonbank ATM fees were particularly galling for 38% of respondents, while 27% said they were most annoyed by bank overdraft charges.

Credit Union National Association market research shows member-owned credit unions offer an alternative for these customers. A 2013-2014 Fees Report generated by CUNA's  Market Research Department details just how much credit union members save when compared to fees and charges levied on bank customers.

Just over 80% of credit unions with checking services still offer free checking, compared to 39% of banks. Only 18% of credit unions overall charge maintenance fees on non-interest bearing checking accounts. Half of those credit unions (9%) levy a general maintenance fee. The other 9% of credit unions only charged fees when a minimum balance fell below a certain threshold.

The median amount required to avoid this fee was $300, and the average minimum balance threshold was $534. The median and most charged checking maintenance fee reported was $5, and the average fee was $5.05. Most banks, CUNA found, charge a monthly fee as standard practice. That fee is 43 cents higher than the average credit union fee.

The median overdraft protection fee at credit unions is $25, compared to median fees of $30 at banks and $35 at larger banks, CUNA reported.

As for ATMs: The average nonmember credit union ATM fee, for those that charge them, is $2.10. Banks on average charge non-customer fees of $2.50 per transaction.

FinCEN Offers FBAR E-filing Technical Overview

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VIENNA, Va. (9/11/13)--The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is offering a webinar on Thursday Sept. 19 to discuss technical specifications related to the electronic filing of the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

FBAR forms are filed annually and are used to report a financial interest in, or signature or other authority over, bank accounts, securities, or other types of financial accounts in foreign countries. FBARs must be filed for accounts that hold over $10,000 in funds at any time during the year.

FinCEN launched a computer-based e-filing system for FBARs in July 2011 to provide a quicker, cheaper, more secure, and more reliable way for individuals to file the reports. Last year,  a high volume of FBAR e-filing created user issues with the e-filing system and e-filing telephone help desk, with both experiencing extremely high volume that resulted in some intermittent delays in submissions.

The 3 p.m. (ET) webinar Sept. 19 will provide participants with an overview of recent FBAR e-filing technical enhancements and other features of the electronic FBAR.  Also, FinCEN representatives will be available to answer technical questions about e-filing and batch filing after the presentation.

This webinar primarily is intended for software development professionals and third party service providers, such as attorneys or accountants.

NEW: CUNA Don't Tax Tuesday Again Boosts Advocacy Efforts

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WASHINGTON (9/11/13, UPDATED: 3:10 P.M. ET)--The newest phase of a credit union social-media advocacy blitz targeted at Capitol Hill to deliver the message "Don't Tax My Credit Union" paid off big Tuesday. It brought the total numbers of hits to the Credit Union National Association's www.DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org site to over 1 million views since being launched in May and helped the campaign generate an overall total of 850,000 the messages to member of Congress.

"This campaign was more successful than we could have anticipated," CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said today. "The level of engagement we saw on Don't Tax Tuesday is a testament to the power of social media and to the dedication of credit union members, who value their credit unions so much that they actually want to stand together and advocate for protecting that value with lawmakers," he added.

The major social media push used Twitter, Facebook, as well as CUNA's own DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org websites--in Spanish and English--to generate over 5,000 tweets, 600 Facebook posts and 8,000 emails to lawmakers.

Overall, more than 1 million Twitter users were potentially exposed to the #DontTaxMyCU campaign yesterday--bringing CUNA's campaign total to more than 3 million social media users on Facebook and Twitter. Around 4,800 of the tweets made on Sept. 10 were specifically aimed at the Twitter accounts of Members of Congress. This total is double the result seen during the first #DontTaxTuesday campaign held in July.

CUNA's DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org website saw more than 69,000 page views yesterday, nearly seven times the daily average. And 70% of the nearly 23,000 unique visitors were first time visitors to the site--credit union members newly engaged in CUNA's campaign.

Use the link for more on CUNA's Don't Tax My Credit Union campaign.

NEW: NCUA Partners With VA To Increase Vets In Workforce

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (9/11/13, UPDATED 10:20 a.m. ET)--The National Credit Union Administration announced this morning that it has joined forces with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create more employment opportunities for veterans. The partnership is also intended to promote "greater workforce diversity" at the credit union agency through the Feds for Vets program.
 
A memorandum of understanding signed today by the agencies launches the cooperative effort. The NCUA noted in a release that it is the first financial services regulatory agency to partner with the VA in the program, which is part of the Obama administration's national strategy aimed at increasing the number of veterans in the federal workforce.

NCUA Chair Debbie Matz said, "America's servicemen and women have given so much of their time and talents to our nation, and they bring valuable skills and experiences to the workplace. We want to tap into this pool of eligible workers, who also have a deep commitment to public service. The Feds for Vets program will expedite the hiring process and find qualified employees for NCUA to hire."

Since November 2009, NCUA has hired 128 veterans, 22% of agency hires in that time period. Matz said the agency would "benefit tremendously" from the partnership with the VA in terms of greater efficiency in the hiring process and timely access to a large pool of job candidates, with the result that more veterans will join NCUA's workforce.

NCUA's responsibilities under the agreement include:
  • Using the VA for Vets website and promoting it through the agency's own websites;
  • Training staff in the veterans' hiring process and use of the VA for Vets website;
  • Providing links to agency job opportunities to the site; and
  • Tracking and reporting on marketing, outreach, recruitment and hiring goals.
VA's obligations include:
  • Providing consultation services, including providing training and tools for human resources staff, recruiters and hiring managers;
  • Providing targeted marketing and outreach through social media, service organizations, veterans' associations and other outlets; and
  • Developing and posting job announcements and matching veterans to opportunities at the NCUA.