Bank On It: Taxing Credit Unions Would Hurt All: Opinion

By Patricia Wesenberg

As tax reform picks up speed in Congress, special-interest groups are storming Capitol Hill to ensure they get favorable tax treatment.

Fortunately, some groups — including credit unions — are looking out for the interests of hardworking Americans in this tax reform debate.

For years, big banks have been trying to saddle their nonprofit credit-union competitors with new taxes. They see a congressional tax reform push as their best chance to sneak such taxes in.

Consumers should hope that the big banks don’t succeed. New taxes on credit unions would pick the pockets not just of their 96 million predominantly middle-class customers, but those of all Americans — by reducing competition in the financial services sector.

Credit unions and banks offer many of the same services, such as checking accounts, savings accounts and home mortgages. But they couldn’t be more different in philosophy and structure.

As nonprofit financial cooperatives, credit unions exist to benefit their member-owners. They do so by charging low or no fees and offering higher interest rates on savings and lower rates on loans. They’ve advanced that mission since the 1930s, when Congress authorized their creation and granted them nonprofit status.

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