The bankers’ recent failure to get a new tax on credit unions in Iowa is not a victory as much as a final warning.

Over the next few months, this episode will be picked apart and reconsidered by state bankers associations. At the American Bankers Association here in DC, they will dive deep, reexamining everything from financial support for state legislators to the details of subcommittee testimony.

Come election season, “fairness” will be part of every banker PAC check presentation across the country. By the time state legislatures reconvene in January, there will be a game plan for a multi-point approach in at least half a dozen state capitals. Quite possibly, four times that many.

The states with the best “facts” and most compelling local bankers will get the bulk of the resources and the push will be hard. Many state leagues will be outgunned and bankers only need one victory to change the entire dynamic.

Victory in one state and and others will start to fall like dominoes. Then, in 2021, or maybe 2023, credit unions will be hit with federal income taxes too. After all, like the bankers say, “It’s only fair.”

Unless we take control of our story, our facts and our language, the end of the credit union tax exemption isn’t a question of if, but of when. We must act quickly, aggressively and with one clear voice to reclaim the narrative or the outcome in Iowa may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.

Chris Howard

Chris Howard

Chris Howard is SVP of Callahan & Associates