WASHINGTON (3/5/15)--The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) unveiled its list of 2015 policy priorities Tuesday and CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle noted that it highlights how similar the advocacy priorities of credit unions and small banks are--but with one very unfortunate exception.
"It is with great disappointment--and frankly some disbelief--that I see the community bankers have yet again committed to their misinformation campaign about credit unions and our federal tax status," Nussle said Thursday.
While the ICBA names "relief from crushing regulatory burden" as its top concern for community banks in 2015, it later on the same page declares it "continues to oppose" some of credit unions' key regulatory relief priorities as long as credit unions continue to operate under their statutory tax status as not-for-profit financial cooperatives.
"How does this even make sense?" Nussle questioned.
Credit unions were first made tax-exempt by a ruling by the U.S. Attorney General in 1917, less than 10 years after the first one appeared in this country and 17 years prior to the enactment of the Federal Credit Union Act. The tax status has been reaffirmed many times, including in 1935, 1936, 1937, 1951 and 1998.
"Credit unions behave differently from other institutions due to their not-for-profit structure," Nussle reminded. "It's not what we do, but how we do it, and who we do it for makes the difference. The cooperative structure allows credit unions to focus totally on member value and service, and, overall, prevents us from taking the types of risks big banks take in the name of profits."
Nussle noted there are so many advocacy areas where community banks and credit unions could unite, not only in the regulatory relief arena, but also for housing finance reform, cyber- and data security issues and making merchants conform to higher data protection standards, payments systems access and governance, and so much more.
"The final concern named on the ICBA's 2015 issues list is 'ending too-big-to-fail' advantages given to 'megabanks,'" Nussle noted. "Maybe ICBA should put more effort into fighting the real enemy of community banks and stop attacking member-owned, community-based credit unions."