CUs advocate for hardworking community members in Op-Ed
April 8, 2015
MISSOULA, Mont. (4/9/15)--Credit unions are community-based financial institutions not only because they serve their members, but because they serve all members of the community, no matter where they manage their finances.
Montana's credit unions proved that recently with an Op-Ed in The Missoulian called "MT credit unions support hardworking families," which advocates helping poor, working individuals by supporting a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) measure.
The piece, coordinated by the Montana Credit Union Network (MCUN) and signed by several credit union leaders, explains that Montana is one of only five states that imposes taxes on the working poor, and that this measure would help those 27,000 families in the state who maintain employment but still struggle to pay bills and to climb out of poverty.
"Of all the ideas presented this legislative session to alleviate poverty, we believe one of the most promising opportunities to support working Montanans and boost our economy at the same time is a state Earned Income Tax Credit," the credit union leaders wrote.
Signing the Op-Ed were Jeremy Presta, president/CEO, Park Side Financial CU, Whitefish; Diana Cannon, president/CEO, Mile High FCU, Butte; Jack Lawson, president/CEO, Missoula (Mont.) FCU; and Emily Guldborg, manager, McCone County FCU, Circle.
MCUN isn't a stranger to helping low-income community members grapple with tax burden, meanwhile.
For the last decade, the credit union league has run Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout the state to help low-income filers properly fill out and submit their taxes.
Karen Smith, executive director of MCUN's foundation, Montana Credit Unions for Community Development, said supporting the tax credit measure was a perfect opportunity to continue helping hardworking families claim the money they have earned.
"During the legislative session, a bill came up to implement the state EITC and of course we supported it, because it goes hand-in-hand with our free tax sites," Smith told News Now.
While advocating for the measure and supporting community members with the free tax sites may not, on the surface, appear to directly benefit credit unions, Smith contends that because these issues affect communities, they absolutely have an impact on the movement.
"By supporting these programs and free tax sites, we're helping support the communities credit unions serve," Smith said, adding, "Serving communities, individuals and their families is good for the credit union. It's helping the community move toward financial capability."