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BOSTON — The Massachusetts Bankers Association lashed out at credit unions Sept. 1 with the unleashing of its new Web site www.CreditUnionRuse.com.

According to the bankers, the site was designed to boost awareness of the large credit unions taking advantage of the average taxpayer. “Many people are not aware that credit unions do not pay taxes,” Daniel J. Forte, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Bankers Association, said. “This tax subsidy comes out of the pockets of ordinary, tax-paying citizens, and it is revenue lost that local communities could use for such things as fire, ambulance, and police services–any taxpayer-funded expense.” The Web site repackages the usual banker arguments that credit unions are overstepping their bounds and points to the multi-million projects a few credit unions are working on, such as stadium naming rights. The Massachusetts Bankers Association is a statewide trade association that represents 210 banks across the Commonwealth. Ninety-five percent are community banks. “It is these institutions that are competing with large credit unions every day–and it’s an unlevel playing field to be sure,” Forte said. As Massachusetts is the only state to place Community Reinvestment Act obligations on credit unions, it has unique statistics in that aspect. According to www.creditunionruse.com, “Despite their taxpayer subsidy and a charge to serve low- to moderate-income individuals, only 17 percent of all these credit unions earned an outstanding/high satisfactory CRA rating compared to 43 percent of all state-chartered banks during 2002 to 2004.”

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