"Big Tuesdays" come along so rarely it's hard to remember the last one. Election Day? New Year's Day was on a Tuesday this year. Those are the two that come to mind, thus far in 2013. But according to CUNA, today is, indeed, a Big Tuesday. For today is "Don't Tax My Credit Union" Tuesday.
Don't Tax My Credit Union is CUNA's answer to an aggressive press-blitz by the ABA. Both sides are trying to sway the opinion of the public - CUNA wants members to speak up and for non-members to see that CUs are the "little guys", there to help communities and small businesses. The ABA wants the public to see credit unions as a bunch of tax cheats that are harming the economy and causing a budget shortfall.
I find it ironic that the ABA wants to paint credit unions' tax exemption as a harm to the national budget. Take a look at the ABA's "Tax Credit Unions" page:
Since 2001, credit unions have increased the deficit by not paying an estimated $20.5 billion in federal income taxes.
Wow! That's some bold text. And that's also a big dollar figure. But let's read that first part about "Since 2001". That roughs out to about $1.7 billion/year for the past twelve years. B of A got $45 billion in bailout funds...more than double what credit unions have "not paid". What's more, B of A didn't pay any taxes in 2010 and has leveraged its many loopholes to avoid paying in the years that followed. And that's just one of the banks the ABA says isn't getting a fair deal because of the CU tax exemption.
Is anyone else confused as to how you can pay no taxes, get a bailout, receive government subsidies, neglect small businesses and financial literacy...and complain that a group of FIs that makes up 6% of the market is hurting America?
Hold on, I'm going to go bang my head against a wall and see if it makes sense after that...
Nope, it's still a joke of a premise. And now, I have a headache. Thanks, Big Banks.
Two stories. One by credit unions, one by banks. The trillion-dollar question: who'll win out? Naturally, we'd all like to think that credit unions will protect their tax-exempt status. It shouldn't be discounted that CUNA and its credit unions are fighting a small-scale war against an organization with a warchest that is...well, larger than a lot of credit unions. Credit unions and their employees have picked up the charge, but a quick social search on the #DontTaxMyCU hashtag doesn't show a lot of average folks sharing the word...plenty of trade groups, leagues and CU accounts, but very few actual members. Do we still have a shot at getting the public on our side?
We'd better be telling a compelling story. "We'll lose our advantage" is a bad argument to make. "We are here to help our people and boost small businesses - losing exemption will ruin both" is much better. If you have a great campaign related to Don't Tax My Credit Union, send it to CUNA so they might share. And if you care about credit unions, tell your friends, convince your family, and stand behind your CU's ability to serve your community.