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Community Banker Buttons Highlight Unfair Expansion of Mega-Credit Unions

Washington, D.C. (May 11, 2004) - Wearing buttons that declare "Enough is Enough" and display a red circle-and-slash symbol over the words "Unfair Credit Union Expansion," members of Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) will be instantly recognizable all over Capitol Hill today.

Nearly 300 ICBA members are heading for the Hill this morning to meet with their congressional representatives. The community bankers plan to talk about many legislative issues affecting Main Street America, but one issue in particular will be on their minds: The increasing number of large, commercial bank-like credit unions using their tax-exempt status and extremely liberal Field of Membership rules to compete aggressively for virtually any community bank customer, including small businesses.

A recent Government Accounting Office study found that mega-credit unions, which are not required to comply with the heavy regulatory burdens community banks shoulder, are the fastest growing segment of the credit union industry. Today, nearly 100 credit unions have more than $1 billion in assets.

"It's time that Congress recognizes the rapidly growing number of giant credit unions that have abandoned their original nonprofit missions, yet still don't pay taxes," said Camden R. Fine, president and CEO of ICBA. "ICBA says enough is enough! These credit unions have abandoned the missions for which they were originally chartered and are trying to be commercial banks without the regulatory or tax obligations that come with being a commercial bank."

Congressional Budget Office documents show that, at a minimum, over $12 billion in federal taxes will go unpaid by these mega-credit unions over the next decade.

ICBA believes Congress should:

  • Re-examine the tax-exempt status of mega-credit unions;
  • Study the impact of the increasingly liberal Field of Membership rules credit union regulators have allowed since 1998; and
  • Reject any expansion of business lending authority mega-credit unions are currently seeking.

Community bankers are in Washington this week attending ICBA's Annual Joint Committee Meetings.

Editor's Note: A high-resolution photo is available at http://www.icba.org/2004jcmphotos.html.