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ICBA Applauds Senate Introduction of “Communities First Act”

Bill Would Boost Nation's Small Businesses and Communities

Washington, D.C. (May 16, 2007)—The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) applauds Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) for introducing the ICBA-endorsed "Community Banks Serving Their Communities First Act of 2007." This legislation will help community banks better serve the needs of their individual and small business customers by providing badly needed tax and regulatory relief and by enhancing individual savings.

"Sens. Brownback, Roberts and Coburn are champions of small business. We appreciate their efforts to improve the economic environment for the nation's small businesses, including community banks," said Camden Fine, ICBA president and CEO. "The Communities First Act provides reasonable and targeted regulatory relief and tax reform for community banks, small businesses and individuals and will enable community banks to devote greater resources to serving their communities."

Among the major regulatory relief provisions are:

  • Permit highly rated, well-capitalized community banks with up to $1 billion in assets to file short form Call Reports every other quarter;
  • Relieve community banks with up to $1 billion in assets from the costly internal control attestation and audit requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act;
  • Allow community banks that do not share customer information to forgo the annual privacy notice to customers unless there has been a change in the bank's privacy policy;
  • Provide consumer privacy protection by prohibiting a consumer reporting agency from giving multiple lenders a report when one lender requests a report in connection with a loan, unless authorized by the consumer;
  • Increase the SEC shareholder registration threshold to 1,000 from 500.

The bill also includes tax and small business lending provisions that would:

  • Provide a reduced tax rate for certificate of deposit savers;
  • Create a "Young Savers" Roth IRA-like account for children;
  • Allow a limited 20 percent tax credit for taxes paid by community banks up to a maximum credit of $250,000 per year;
  • Repeal the punitive individual alternative minimum tax (AMT);
  • Enhance rural lending by excluding from taxation income earned on agricultural real estate loans and mortgage loans in communities of 2,500 people or less;
  • Allow a reduction in Small Business Administration 7(a) loan program fees.

House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) introduced the Communities First Act (H.R. 1869) in the House last month. Three provisions from nearly identical legislation were included in regulatory relief legislation enacted in the last Congress. ICBA will work with Congress to help ensure the bill's provisions are considered in any comprehensive tax and regulatory burden relief legislation.