November 28, 2012

Thaler urges CUs to engage on tax exemption

NAFCU's Brad Thaler, writing in Wednesday's CU Insight, said fiscal cliff talks have put credit unions' tax-exempt status at risk and that the credit union industry needs to work together to ensure lawmakers understand and preserve it.

In an editorial, "Cliff Diving and Your Credit Union," Thaler, NAFCU's vice president of legislative affairs, points out that the current debate in Washington over the fiscal cliff and tax reform is "very similar" to what was seen during the mid-1980s and early 1990s, when the credit union exemption faced serious threats as a result of budget and tax reform battles. While Washington has yet to agree on the specifics of an agreement, Thaler wrote, "those who have a ‘tax expenditure' (a fancy term for certain tax exemptions – such as the credit union tax exemption) have been put on notice that they need to justify their existence."

While NAFCU continues to educate elected officials about the value of the exemption, the credit union industry needs to work together to ensure it is preserved, Thaler said. To that end, Thaler encouraged readers to review NAFCU's landmark economic study on the credit union exemption and share its findings with elected officials and credit union members. The study found that the credit union exemption helps return more than $10 billion in value to consumers each year. Eliminating it, the study showed, would result in a loss of 1.5 million jobs over the next decade and an overall loss in tax revenue for the federal government.

Thaler also noted that NAFCU's Grassroots Center offers a convenient way for credit unions to contact elected officials. He also encouraged readers to get involved by attending NAFCU's 2013 Congressional Caucus in Washington next September, "where joining with other credit union leaders to present a united front keeps your members and their best interests away from any dangerous cliffs."