Management

Don’t Tax My Credit Union

CUNA, leagues, CUs, and members send a message to Congress.

June 27, 2013
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Credit unions and their members are taking extraordinary measures to deliver an urgent message to federal lawmakers: “Don’t tax my credit union!”

They’re heeding a call from CUNA and the state credit union leagues to join the fight to preserve credit unions’ tax status as policymakers in Washington, D.C., consider rebuilding the tax code from the ground up.

“Policy is being formulated on Capitol Hill now, so we must act now—we can’t wait,” says CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney. “It’s rare that credit unions call on their 96 million members to take action, but our members are the best spokespeople we have, especially on an issue as vital to our future as this.

“Once members realize what’s at stake, they’re our best allies in this fight,” Cheney continues. “They get it. And members understand that, while we work on their behalf to preserve credit unions, we need their voices to be heard loud and clear in the national policy discussion. Any tax on credit unions is really a tax on members because credit unions are cooperatively owned by the people they serve. If credit unions were taxed, credit union benefits to members and communities would be lost, and a consumer-friendly option in the financial marketplace would vanish.”

That fact, and a heightened tax threat, is what motivated CUNA and its affiliated state credit union leagues to launch the nationwide grassroots- mobilization campaign urging Americans to deliver a united message to Congress.

“Preserving the credit union tax status and the benefits it conveys to members is always a top priority of CUNA and the leagues,” Cheney explains. “What’s changed is that Congress is talking about starting tax reform talks with a blank sheet of paper. They’re no longer just talking about closing loopholes. A blank sheet of paper means everyone has lost their tax exemption— not just credit unions—and must fight their way back into the tax code.”

CUNA is making the case for credit unions’ tax status on multiple fronts. Among them are:

“We can’t assume members understand the value proposition of credit union membership,” says Paul Gentile, CUNA’s executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement. “We must work collaboratively to communicate it to them. CUNA is giving credit unions the tools they need to take the ‘value’ message to their members. Like all effective communication efforts, we need to be consistent and continue to tell our remarkable story.”

CUNA launched a consumer-facing website, DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org, complete with an educational video and links for advocates to take action by contacting their members of Congress via email or social media. Social media—using the @CUNA advocacy handle and #DontTaxMyCU hashtag on Twitter, and the CUNA Advocacy account on Facebook— is a key component of the campaign.

CUNA’s Tax Status Advocacy Toolkit (available at cuna.org) contains images, Web banners, a suggested action plan, newsletter articles, sample email communications to members of Congress, suggestions on how to use social media to back advocacy efforts, and other tools.

Credit unions and their state leagues have wasted no time in spreading the message, “Don’t tax my credit union!”

CUS DECLARED TAX-EXEMPT IN 1917

Credit unions were declared tax-exempt by a ruling by the U.S. attorney general in 1917, and Congress conveyed that exemption from federal income tax to state- and federally chartered credit unions because of their ownership structure and special mission. The exemption has been reaffirmed many times—in 1935, 1936, 1937, 1951, and 1998.

Credit unions’ structure as not-for-profit financial cooperatives allows them to focus solely on member value and service, and it discourages credit unions from taking the types of risks banks take in the name of profits.

The not-for-profit structure also creates significant member benefits, including lower rates on loans, lower fees on services, and higher returns on deposits. Nonmembers also benefit from credit unions’ exceptional service and market presence, which keeps competitive pressure on banks. 

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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