"The typical credit union member has higher than average income, more years of education and is more likely to own a home than a non-credit union member. " redit unions and banks have been battling each other for weeks on social media regarding the issue of taxing credit unions. Two camps, "It's Time to Pay" and "Don't Tax My Credit Unions," have been tweeting opposing messages, while banks and credit unions have been retweeting and adding their own messages. Not surprisingly, since the credit unions don't really have a leg to stand on, they have been attempting to pull at their followers' heartstrings. Their primary message has been that by taxing credit unions they will "hurt" the industry's 96 million members. They've portrayed credit unions as "the little guy," while banks are "the big guys that took TARP bailouts." They even have the nerve to tout their "lower fees and better interest rates." "We are not-for-profit, member-owned cooperatives," they repeat over and over again in their tweets. They've even gone so far as to say "having credit unions pay taxes is like trying to outlaw apple pie." They've flooded their member base with postcards, asking them to join the campaign and tweet their Congressmen. On the bank side, the ABA's "It's Time to Pay" campaign has stuck to fact-based messages, primarily that if credit unions want to act like banks, they should be taxed like banks. Plain and simple. They've called attention to studies and surveys that show credit unions are nothing like the little guys they like to think they are. Instead: * Credit unions are a $1 trillion industry. * There are now 208 credit unions with more than $1 billion in assets. * Credit unions often stretch their common bond requirements, even advertising that "anyone can join." * Banks trail credit unions in executive pay and loan growth. * Credit unions primarily serve upper income customers. The typical credit union member has higher than average income, more years of education and is more likely to own a home than a non-credit union member. * In 2012, the credit union industry reported a profit of $8.6 billion . However, more than three-fourths of the industry profits were concentrated in credit unions with more than $500 million in assets. Also, in 2007, credit unions had $658 billion in loans and today they have more than $858 billion , a 30 percent increase. In Texas , there are a total of 511 credit unions and 1,617 credit union branches. Assets total $79,220,756,134 . Shares and deposits total $69,264,804,070 . In addition, Texas credit unions have 7,940,613 members. Dallas has 32 credit unions, Fort Worth has 18, while Houston has 62 and San Antonio has 23. Taxing credit unions seems like a nobrainer: the tax exemption was originally given to credit unions as they "served people of modest means." Since evidence shows that is no longer the mission for many credit unions, that tax advantage should be eliminated. In the face of rising debt levels, Congress and the U.S. taxpayer can't afford to keep subsidizing that industry. Since 2001, credit unions have added to our nation's debt by not paying an estimated $20.5 billion in federal income taxes. This estimated payment to the U.S. Treasury would certainly help with our $17 trillion debt. So what can we, as bankers, do? Well, the credit unions have engaged their customers. It's time we pull at some heartstrings, too, by supplementing facts with stories of the good things banks do in their communities. For some reason, bankers are reticent to toot their own horns, but if we don't do it, clearly no one else will. Complacency kills. By Ignacio Urrabazo , TBA Chairman
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