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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ICBA Applauds Formation of New Tax Panel

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 7, 2005) - Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), the nation's largest banking trade organization, today applauded President Bush's leadership in forming a bipartisan panel to make recommendations on improving the federal tax code.

The President appointed two former senators, Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and John Breaux (D-La.), to head the panel. "Senators Mack and Breaux certainly have the respect, knowledge and experience to spearhead a genuine examination of our complex tax code and how best to approach needed reforms," stated Camden R. Fine, president and CEO of ICBA. "The President has shown leadership in taking this step and we look forward to the commission's work."

"The complexity of the current tax code creates an undue burden on individuals, small businesses and the economic health of our nation," stated Paul Merski, ICBA director of federal tax policy. "After labor costs, taxes represent the largest expense for most small businesses. We are pleased the President has appointed two outstanding and experienced men in former senators Mack and Breaux to begin addressing our tax system."

ICBA has published several studies on examining the complexity of the tax system as it impacts small business and community banking and suggested several potential reforms. Most recently, ICBA released the report "Community Bank Tax Relief and Simplification Options," available on its website at http://www.icba.org/files/PDFs/2003taxstudy.pdf.