Tax laws should promote robust economic activity and a vibrant community banking sector and foster saving and investment.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has provided significant tax relief for community banks and their customers. Community bank tax savings support community lending and investment in workforce, technology, and physical infrastructure. ICBA will advocate for no increase in the corporate rate and permanent extension of the individual provisions, including the new deduction for pass-through income, a top individual rate of no more than 37 percent, preferential tax rates for capital gains, and an adequate estate tax exemption, before their scheduled expiration in 2026.
ICBA opposes any new bank-specific fees, punitive new tax levies, transaction taxes, limitations on the deductibility of FDIC premiums, or other proposals specifically targeting the financial services sector. Additionally, ICBA will continue to oppose any legislation – tax or non-tax – that requires revenue offsets or “pay fors” that target the banking industry.
Public policy should support community banks’ ability to raise capital including allowing S corporation banks to issue preferred stock, increasing their shareholder limits, and allowing new IRA shareholder investments.
ICBA supports the creation of tax incentives for community bank retained earnings and community bank lending to low-to-middle income people, small businesses, and small farms.
The tax code should create parity among all providers of financial services. Credit unions, Farm Credit System lenders, and community banks offer similar products and services and should be taxed equivalently.
Banks in compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act are performing a governmental function and should receive a tax credit equal to the cost of compliance. See discussion under Bank Secrecy Act resolution.
ICBA opposes changes that would effectively increase the taxation of estates, including eliminating or curbing stepped up basis in the valuation assets. Such changes would jeopardize the inter-generational transfer of many community banks. Government revenues should not be overly dependent on taxation of wealth, high incomes, or estates. Such policies carry unintended consequences for economic growth and wages.
Tax Policy and Community Banks
ICBA continues to promote tax and budget policies that foster economic growth and support the community bank sector by providing direct tax relief and encouraging private savings and small business investment. A fair and unbiased tax code will enhance the viability of community banks and the vital role they serve in the U.S. economy as a source of lending for consumers, small businesses, and farms.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017, provides significant tax relief for both C corporation and S corporation community banks. C corporations are taxed at a rate of 21 percent. S corporation shareholders are generally eligible for a 20 percent deduction of their business income. Among other significant changes, the new law generally preserves the interest deduction for business borrowers, which had been targeted for elimination, reduces individual tax rates, increases the standard deduction, and increases exemption levels for the individual alternative minimum tax and the estate tax.
ICBA views the recent law as a missed opportunity to eliminate or curb tax subsidies for credit unions and Farm Credit System lenders. ICBA will press for extension of the individual provisions, including the pass-through deduction, individual rate structure, lower tax rates for capital gains, and AMT and estate tax relief, well before they are scheduled to expire at year-end 2025. ICBA will oppose any effort to increase the corporate rate.
New Capital Options for Subchapter S Banks
Subchapter S banks need new options to satisfy higher demands for capital from their regulators. These include allowing S corporation banks to issue preferred stock, increasing their shareholder limits, and allowing new IRA shareholder investments.
Tax Incentives for Community Bank Retained Earnings and Targeted Lending
Carefully designed tax incentives for community bank lending would lower credit costs for targeted borrowers and help community banks diversify their loan portfolios and comply with the Community Reinvestment Act. ICBA believes tax incentives should support community bank lending to low-to-middle income individuals, small businesses, and small farms. Tax relief for community bank retained earnings would strengthen community banks and allow them to better serve their communities.
Parity in Taxation of Financial Services Providers
Many of today’s tax-exempt credit unions and Farm Credit System (FCS) lenders are multi-billion-dollar entities. New rules from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) will further blur the distinction between credit unions and community banks. Many community banks that serve urban and suburban areas have already been squeezed out of consumer lending by tax-subsidized credit unions. Now, community bank commercial lending is also under threat. FCS lenders pose a similar threat to agricultural community banks. Credit unions and FCS lenders are becoming the equivalent of banks and should be taxed equivalently.
The estate tax jeopardizes the succession of community banks from generation to generation. A family estate should never be forced to sell its interest in a community bank to pay a transfer tax. Forced sales of once family-owned community banks to other community banks or, frequently, to larger regional or national banks, coupled with a recent surge in regulatory burden, accelerate the current trend toward consolidation in the banking sector. As noted above, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act temporarily doubles the estate tax exemption through 2025. ICBA will advocate for permanence of the higher exemption level before it expires and will oppose changes that would effectively increase the taxation of estates, such as change to the step up in basis in the valuation of assets.
Bank-Specific Revenue Raisers
ICBA is strongly opposed to any bank or finance-specific revenue raisers whether they be taxes intended to reduce the trading of financial assets or offset the cost of tax cuts. Moreover, in recent years, Congress and the Administration have increasingly turned to the banking sector as a source of revenue, or “pay fors,” to offset the cost of new spending wholly unrelated to the sector. These have taken the form of taxes, fees, revenue cuts, and tax compliance measures administered by banks. The banking sector must not serve as a revenue source for unrelated spending. ICBA will oppose such measures even when they exempt community banks.