Bankers Renew Call for Tax on Credit Unions; Fight Back on ‘Thank You Thursday!’

Banking lobbyists told members of the House Ways & Means Committee this week that they will “fail the American taxpayer if you do not repeal the credit union depression-era tax break.” On Thursday, credit unions are being urged to fight back with a grassroots social media campaign designed to set the record straight.     

“Thank You Thursday” will be similar to the movement’s successful “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” efforts that have delivered more than 1.3 million direct messages to Congress since May 2013. But this time, CUNA is asking credit unions to thank members of the Ways & Means Committee for protecting the credit union tax exemption in Chairman Dave Camp’s preliminary tax-reform plan.

Participating in Thursday’s effort will be easy:

  • You can contact members of the House Ways & Means Committee by using the Tweet Congress tool at Starting Thursday, the link will take you to prewritten Tweets that include the handles of Camp, Ranking Member Sandy Levin and a third handle that will rotate through the names of other members of the committee. (Three Northwest Congressmen sit on Ways & Means: Reps. Dave Reichert and Jim McDermott of Washington, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.)
  • The NWCUA’s “Truth Speaks” site and social media tool kit will include the Twitter handle for every member of the Northwest’s Congressional delegation. You’ll also find a variety of sample posts — many specific to the Northwest — that you can use.

“The Ways & Means Committee deserves a big ‘thank you’ for preserving the credit union tax exemption,” said Jennifer Wagner, the NWCUA’s senior vice president for advocacy. “But in the Northwest, we have received strong support from many of our members of Congress, and it’s appropriate that we recognize and thank all of them. Their continued support will be critical as this discussion continues.”

When Camp’s plan was released Feb. 26, credit union leaders warned that it was only the first step in a long tax-reform process. “This is a win, and evidence that advocacy pays off,” said Troy Stang, president and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association. “We should celebrate that. But we need to be vigilant. It’s a start, but we have to keep communicating the structure, value and impact of credit unions.”

Banking lobbyists drove that point home Monday in a letter to the committee from the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America. In it, they claimed that the credit union tax exemption “subsidizes wealthy credit union members,” and they justified removal of the exemption by saying the “public does not differentiate credit unions from banks.”

“Credit unions were never intended to be tax-free banks,” the letter says, “but that is what they have become.”

Rather than respond directly, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said the association feels it would be better “to let our grassroots do the responding for us” in a social media campaign with two goals: to stress the structure, value and impact of credit unions; and to thank Camp and members of his committee for understanding how those things make credit unions different from banks.

“Our exclusion from Chairman Camp’s plan is a significant victory in a key battle, but the war wages on,” Cheney said. “It is important at this juncture to not let the Ways & Means Committee’s commitment to protecting our tax status go unrecognized and unheralded, particularly as they hear complaints from bank lobbyists.”


Questions? Contact Gary M. Stein: 503.350.2216,

Posted in Advocacy News, CUNA.