Oregon Bankers’ Attack on Credit Unions Not Likely to be Popular with Voters

A newly released poll shows Northwest consumers have overwhelming loyalty to credit unions over banks, and support the credit union not-for-profit tax exemption.

The research was conducted via telephone by the respected Voter/Consumer Research firm in late January. Six hundred consumers participated in the telephone survey – 300 in Washington and 300 in Oregon.

“Loyalty to credit unions is very high, and this doesn’t surprise us given how much money consumers save by leaving their banks,” said Troy Stang, president and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA).

The poll results should prove of particular interest to legislators in Oregon, who are once again being pushed by bank lobbyists to impose a corporate tax on the state’s largest credit unions. Credit unions do pay property and payroll taxes. They are exempt from state business and occupational taxes, however, because as not-for-profit cooperatives, their earnings are returned to members.

Results of the voter poll results were strikingly similar in both states, suggesting the tactics of an anti-credit union task force formed by the Oregon Bankers’ Association are likely to be unpopular with voters. According to the survey:

  • Ninety percent of Oregon voters and 88 percent of Washington voters have a positive impression of credit unions. In Washington, 43 percent of voters think unfavorably of banks, and 38 percent of Oregon voters feel the same way.
  • Seventy percent of Oregon voters and 68 percent of Washington voters agree that credit unions should not have to pay business or occupational taxes because of their not-for-profit model.
  • When asked specifically which side they would take if a disagreement between banks and credit unions erupted in Congress or in their state legislature, 71 percent of voters in both Oregon and Washington indicated they would side with credit unions.
  • Oregon’s tax officials estimate the bank lobby’s legislation could generate between $1 million and $4 million dollars per year. However, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reports that Oregon’s working-class credit union members saved a collective $121 million in direct benefits during the 12-month period ending in September 2012.

“That’s $170 a year in real savings for the average credit union household,” Stang said in reference to CUNA’s savings estimate for Oregon members. “That is a benefit bank customers did not enjoy. Our members—teachers, truck drivers, working moms and dads—didn’t pay those banking fees and instead invested their savings right back into Oregon’s economy.”


Questions? Contact a member of the Association’s Legislative Affairs team:

Jennifer Wagner, Vice President of Legislative Advocacy
Mark Minickiello, Vice President of Legislative Affairs
Pam Leavitt, Policy Advisor

Posted in Advocacy News, Compliance News, Federal, NCUA.