WASHINGTON — The Independent Community Bankers of America lauded Senators Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) as "champions of small business" for introducing the Communities First Act (S. 1405).

The bill would provide regulatory and tax relief for smaller community banks, including permitting community banks with up to $1 billion in assets to file short form Call Reports every other quarter; relieving community banks from internal control attestation and audit requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act; excluding community banks that do not share customer information from annual privacy notices unless there has been a change in policy; prohibiting a consumer reporting agency from giving multiple lenders a report when one lender requests a report in connection with a loan, unless authorized by the consumer; and increasing the Securities and Exchange Commission shareholder registration threshold to 1,000 from 500.

On the tax side, the bill would provide a reduced tax rate for certificate of deposit savers; create a "Young Savers" Roth IRA-like account for children; allow a limited 20% tax credit for taxes paid by community banks up to a maximum credit of $250,000 per year; repeal the punitive individual alternative minimum tax; enhance rural lending by excluding from taxation income earned on agricultural real estate loans and mortgage loans in communities of 2,500 people or less; and allow a reduction in Small Business Administration 7(a) loan program fees.

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