Hundreds of credit union leaders and members—including representatives from nearly every area credit union—rallied outside of the Credit Union Association of New York headquarters in Albany on Thursday to voice their support for CUNA’s Don’t Tax My Credit Union campaign, the league said in a release.
The rally was part of CUANY’s statewide Don’t Tax My Credit Union Week, designed to help raise awareness about the campaign and encourage credit unions to lobby Congress in support of the credit union tax exemption.
Committee leaders in both the U.S. Senate and House have said they will attempt reforms to the tax code this year.
Supporters gathered to hear guest speakers express the importance of the credit union income tax exemption.
“Credit unions are member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperatives that return their earnings to their members in the form of lower rates on loans, higher interest on savings, enhanced service and little or no fees,” said CUANY President/CEO William J. Mellin.
“Elimination of the exemption would create a new tax on the 96 million credit union members nationwide and erase $6 billion to $10 billion in annual economic benefits.”
Four credit union leaders joined Mellin in addressing the group, including Paula Stopera, president/CEO of CAP COM Federal Credit Union; Curt Cecala, CEO of TCT Federal Credit Union; Lucy Halstead, chief operating officer of First New York Federal Credit Union; and Michael Tobler, president/CEO of Albany Firemen’s Federal Credit Union.
Stopera and Halstead emphasized that the exemption allows credit unions to reinvest money back into their communities. This year alone, CAP COM FCU will donate more than $200,000 to community and charitable initiatives, Stopera said.
Cecala and Tobler highlighted the histories of their credit unions, emphasizing that time and growth have not changed their fundamental mission of serving members.
Rally attendee John DeCelle, chief marketing officer at the Albany, N.Y.-based SEFCU, said that grants, scholarships and other forms of charitable giving would come under scrutiny if the exemption were lost.
“If we lose our exemption, we’re going to have to take a look at our overall situation,” he said. “There would be some type of change in how we operate—there would have to be.”
The rally attracted considerable media attention, with WRGB Ch. 6, WNYT Ch. 13, WTEN Ch. 10, WGY-AM and The Times Union covering the event locally.
Nearly 100 credit unions across New York are also participating in a postcard campaign coordinated by CUANY. The credit unions are collecting staff/member signatures on postcards asking Congress to keep the credit union tax-exempt status, the league said.
The postcards will be hand-delivered to the offices of Democratic Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand next month.