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WASHINGTON-The Independent Community Bankers of America has listed “unfair credit union competition” near the top of their highest priorities for 2006. ICBA released the list of priorities during its National Convention and Techworld. Credit unions ranked third among nine priorities for this year with just the Communities First Act, legislation to provide certain regulatory and tax relief to community banks, and the threat industrial loan companies bring to the separation of banking and commerce coming in ahead. Falling below credit unions were tax policies to foster economic growth, a risk-based approach to Bank Secrecy Act enforcement, sound corporate governance without unnecessary burden, and others. Regarding credit union competition, ICBA stated that it “opposes expanded powers for credit unions, particularly the proposal to raise the cap on `member business loans,’ so long as credit unions remain exempt from taxation and the Community Reinvestment Act. ICBA supports tax parity between banks and credit unions. There is no good policy argument based on equity or efficiency for maintaining the credit union tax exemption when they compete aggressively against taxpaying community banks and continue to expand beyond their statutory mission of serving people of modest means.” The banking group also supported the Credit Union Charter Choice Act. Credit unions were not the only competition ICBA was looking to quash. The group will also seek to restrain the Farm Credit System.

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