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The NCUA board recently issued an ANPR seeking comments on alternative forms of capital for federally-insured credit unions. Perhaps the thorniest issue on which the ANPR invites comment is the extent to which alternative capital might pose a threat to credit unions’ federal income tax exemption. As in the past, no doubt some commenters will see the taxation threat as a “third rail” that justifies the avoidance of all exploration of alternative capital. However, the credit union system is probably better positioned today than ever before to develop these long-overdue capital formation tools – without significantly jeopardizing the vaunted tax exemption.

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