Donovan: Threat to CU Tax Status Is Low—But Not Zero

CUNA and CUs must remain vigilant on the issue.

October 27, 2011

The threat to credit unions' tax status is low, but it's not zero. That's how Ryan Donovan, CUNA's chief lobbyist, frames the issue as the Super Committee in Congress works to identify spending cuts before a late November deadline. Donovan, CUNA's senior vice president of legislative affairs, spoke yesterday at CUNA's Community Credit Union & Growth Conference in San Francisco.

For many reasons, Donovan says it's unlikely Congress will put credit unions' tax status on the table:

  • Republicans will resist any tax increases;
  • A plan by House Democrats also doesn't include taxing credit unions; and
  • Credit unions'  tax status represents small money while the deficit problem and solutions require big money.

But it's also for all those reasons that CUNA must remain vigilant on the issue—especially looking past the elections next year and toward 2013 when almost all in Congress agree it will be time to revise the tax code.

"We've been pursuing legislation to increase credit unions' business lending cap for a long time," says Donovan. "You'd think it would be a no-brainer, but in this environment it's being met in Congress with considerable resistance." CUNA will continue to work behind the scenes to move the bill, sponsored by Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, while also looking to secure more Republican support for it. One option for the bill is to attach it to part of President Obama's jobs package, "but we want to make sure it keeps moving then," says Donovan.

Stressing the importance of advocacy, he adds, "if we don't speak up for credit unions in Washington, there are plenty of people who will speak against us." The most important thing credit unions can do: Continue to serve your members well, he says. And take advantage of upcoming legislative breaks near Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day to meet with your representatives.