If you are of the 96 million Americans who rely on a not-for-profit credit union for fairly priced financial services, it's not too late to make your voice heard. Finance Committee leaders are working on a proposal for a new U.S. tax code and Big Banks are asking them to pick the pockets of Credit Union members.
With fast-growing credit unions posing more formidable competition to banks, industry trade groups are pressing the White House and Congress to end a tax break that dates to the Great Depression.
"Many tax-exempt credit unions have morphed from serving 'people of small means' to become full-service, financially sophisticated institutions," Frank Keating, president of the American Bankers Assn., wrote to President Obama last month.
"The time has come to abolish this exemption," Keating said in the letter, which was part of a blitz that included print and radio ads in the nation's capital.
The tax exemption is crucial to credit unions, which by law can't raise capital through public stock offerings the way that banks can, said Fred R. Becker Jr., president of the National Assn. of Federal Credit Unions, a trade group with about 3,800 federally chartered members.
"They'll have to convert to banks, which is what the banks want," he said. "Then they'd have, for lack of a better term, a monopoly."
A 2012 economic study commissioned by the trade group found that removing the tax exemption would cost consumers about $10 billion a year through higher fees and interest rates on loans, as well as lower interest rates on savings.