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Majority of Americans think large CUs shouldn't be tax exempt: Survey

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A new survey commissioned by the Florida Bankers Association claims that a majority of Americans think it’s unfair that large credit unions are tax exempt.

The survey found that 68% of Americans believe credit unions with $500 million or more in assets shouldn’t be exempt from paying state and federal income tax.

“Right now these mega-credit unions are getting a free ride,” Alex Sanchez, CEO of the Florida Bankers Association, said during a presentation about the survey.

The survey question began with some background on the industry’s tax-exempt status. It then stated: “Some feel that the credit union tax exemption is good because it allows credit unions to extend financial benefits to members, such as offering higher interest rates on deposit accounts than traditional banks. Others say that the credit union tax exemption is bad because today’s credit unions have expanded their financial services beyond their original purpose, which was why they were not required to pay taxes in the first place.”

It asked participants, “How fair or unfair do you think it is that mega credit unions (with $500 million or more in total assets) do not have to pay state and federal income taxes?”

The survey’s findings were released during a webinar that coincided with International Credit Union Day on Thursday. Over 2,000 U.S. adults were surveyed in the poll, which was conducted online by Harris.

Seventy percent of those surveyed would support Congress requiring CUs with at least $500 million in assets to pay federal and state income taxes. That number remained relatively stable across political affiliation. Seventy-one percent of Republicans and Democrats and 70% of Independents said these institutions should be taxed.

“Of course with our growing national debt at $22 trillion, it is time that Congress look at corporate welfare for those credit unions, and perhaps at other industries as well,” Sanchez said.

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