Comments from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) about a year ago now caused an uproar across the credit union community. In a speech to a hospital group, he said his committee would be looking into whether nonprofits continued to serve a societal good and listed hospitals and credit unions among the entities he would study. So far a specific hearing on credit unions has not come up in the committee. The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing April 5 on tax abuses by nonprofits. While "yesterday's hearing featured several sharp exchanges," according to CUNA Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs John McKechnie, credit unions did not come up. Unlike Thomas, "Senator Grassley has assured us that this does not concern credit unions or the tax exemption in his mind," McKechnie said. He noted that the senator has been a "strong friend of credit unions." Still, CUNA is keeping a close eye on the issue in case it migrates onto credit union turf. "Our attitude is to be very watchful of any examination of the nonprofit sector," he said. He emphasized that CUNA is also being watchful over the bankers' rhetoric on credit unions not serving their mission, which is key to the tax exemption. Credit unions have contended that no matter what services they become involved in, it is all to serve their members, including those of modest means. Somers said the attention to nonprofits in general could draw "a slight amount" of attention to credit unions, "but not anything that is new, really."
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