Community Service

Ask Members to Stand Up for CUs

It only makes sense for members to tell Congress, “Don’t Tax My Credit Union.”

August 30, 2013
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In late June, Senate Finance Committee leaders began circulating a letter among fellow senators (known on Capitol Hill as a “Dear Colleague” letter). The letter informed colleagues that the committee intends to mark up tax reform legislation in October and wants to schedule a floor vote in November.
 
So Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah—chairman and ranking member of the Finance Committee, respectively—asked senators to make recommendations about what should—and shouldn’t—be included in a new tax code.
 
Senators were asked to start with a “blank sheet,” as if no deductions, exemptions, credits, or any other type of tax preference existed.
 
This includes the credit union tax exemption.
 
When the Finance Committee leaders issued their letter, I released a statement reinforcing our call on credit unions to contact their senators immediately, insisting that our tax exemption gets back on that sheet of paper.
 
During the next four weeks, as part of our “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” campaign, credit unions responded—with hundreds of thousands of emails, letters, Facebook posts, tweets, and more. Many of those contacts with Congress came from credit union members themselves.
 
And that’s the way it should be, because it’s members who expect so much from their credit unions—but stand to lose just as much. As we told President Obama in a letter in late June, repealing our tax exemption would slowly eliminate the credit union option for millions of Americans.
 
If taxed, we told the president, a significant number of larger credit unions would likely convert to banks to take advantage of the greater flexibility that charter offers. An equally significant number of smaller credit unions could simply liquidate, we pointed out. The remainder—as wholly owned cooperatives—would have to pass the burden of taxation through to their members, increasing their costs for accessing financial services.
 
We told the president that taxing credit unions would undermine the reason credit unions were formed. It would amount to a gift of tens of millions of customers to the forprofit banking industry—at a time when the public is exceptionally dissatisfied with that industry and is actively pursuing alternatives.
 
Conversions to banks, outright liquidations, and higher costs for accessing financial services aren’t what members expect when they join credit unions.
 
This is why it makes sense to ask members to tell Congress: “Don’t Tax My Credit Union.”
 
And, they’re likely to respond positively.
 
Our annual voter poll also tracks responses from the more than 40 million members who consider credit unions their primary financial institutions (PFIs). For 2013, the voter poll found that 93% of these PFImembers would side with credit unions in a disagreement with banks.
 
And, since banks have ramped up their bleating about how Congress must use this tax reform effort to eliminate the credit union tax exemption, it only makes sense that credit unions call on these members and urge them to speak out on this critical issue.
 
The bottom line: If credit unions can successfully tap their members to stand up for their credit unions—as many as possible—we can and will succeed in keeping our tax exemption on that sheet of paper.
 
And, we’ll also show the real power of credit unions, which is rooted in our millions of members. By tapping their support, we’ll also create awareness of credit unions—one of the key goals in our “Unite for Good” effort to establish a shared, strategic vision for the movement: “Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.”
 
It’s my hope—and expectation— that when the Senate considers tax reform legislation this fall, they’ll see the credit union tax exemption boldly written on the formerly “blank sheet”—and the words “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” will be ringing in tax writers’ ears. 
 
BILL CHENEY is CUNA's president/CEO.

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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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