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WASHINGTON and BASKING RIDGE, N.J.-Four more representatives have jumped on the bandwagon in support of credit unions’ tax-exempt status. In a recent visit to Affinity Federal Credit union, Congressman Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) “genuinely empathized with our position” on the tax exemption and regulatory relief,” according to Donna LoStocco, Affinity’s vice president of member development and political affairs. Regarding H.R. 3579, the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act, she said Garrett stated he “doesn’t believe this piece of legislation will be acted upon this year and plans to look closer at it in the next session.” Garrett spent more than an hour touring the facilities. As the largest credit union in New Jersey at $1.3 billion in assets, LoStocco said Affinity’s CEO has set being politically active as a priority. The credit union makes multiple trips to Washington each year and visits with delegates in their districts. Affinity also has a political action committee that LoStocco said “has been very helpful in helping build relationships with legislators.” In other credit union tax exemption support news, Representative Charles Gonzalez sent a letter to CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica backing credit unions’ tax exemption. “Credit unions throughout our nation’s history have served an important mission of ensuring that working families have access to financial services and capital,” the letter read. “As long as credit unions maintain that as their core mission, I support continuing their long-standing tax exempt status.” Gonzalez said he recognized the bankers’ hypocrisy in trying to get credit unions taxed while working to relieve their own tax burdens. “I also find it somewhat ironic that some of the same individuals and institutions that advocate for increasing the tax burden on credit unions, also regularly advocate for tax reductions for particular industries and for the highest income households,” the letter read. “It appears to me that leveling the economic playing field may not necessarily be their truly highest concern.” Also, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) has issued a statement to the Texas Credit Union League strongly supporting credit unions’ tax-exempt status. “As a member of the House Committee on Financial Services, I have had the opportunity to get to know many credit union employees,” he explained. “I have always been impressed with their commitment to serving their members and their communities. In many ways, credit unions exemplify the best of the free-market system. Since credit unions are formed specifically to serve their members, credit unions put the interests of their depositors first.” Paul continued, “I support retaining the tax-exempt status of credit unions, as well as repealing all federal regulations that prevent credit unions from more efficiently meeting the needs of the American people. I look forward to continuing to work with credit unions to achieve our common goals.” Credit unions have garnered public support from a good number of members of Congress between the co-sponsors of the CURIA (H.R. 3579) and statements supporting credit unions’ tax-exemption in response to the bankers’ push to get credit unions taxed. Additionally, Congressman Bob Filner (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to the editor, which appeared in the July 13 issue of The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, “In defense of credit unions.” The letter read, “A new tax on credit unions, which already pay payroll taxes, sales taxes and property taxes, would make a negligible contribution to the national treasury. The real winners would be the banks, which have claimed that credit unions’ tax status gives them an unfair competitive advantage. “The truth is that banks are earning record-setting profits, and owned $8.95 trillion in assets as of September last year, while total credit union assets reached a relatively modest $622 billion. Unsatisfied, the banks’ lobbyists are prodding their allies in Congress to bully the credit unions.” He noted that he and 20 other California Democrats recently wrote in opposition of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas’ (R-Calif.) proposed hearing (see related story page 3) looking into whether credit unions deserved to maintain their tax exemption. “We are defending credit unions because they are economic democracy in action, with members also serving as owners,” Filner wrote. “They put people before profits and embrace members who don’t pull down the big bucks. Instead of issuing stocks or paying dividends to outside stockholders, credit unions return their earnings to their members through lower loan rates, higher dividends on deposits and lower fees.” [email protected]

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