Credit Unions Evolve As Does Policy Debate

If you close your eyes and think about all the issues bankers have lobbied for over the decades, and focus on the one that resurfaces each year, credit union taxation should immediately pop into your mind. Over the years, the credit union industry has consolidated at a pace faster than that of the banking industry, resulting in fewer institutions but, without question, larger ones. Of the top 20 financial institutions headquartered in Wisconsin, 11 are credit unions with the largest one, Landmark Credit Union, ranked #3 at over $5 billion in assets. 

While bankers have consistently asked for taxation of credit unions, we have raised many other regulatory and legislative issues over the years with some success. Just as routinely, credit unions have lobbied Congress and NCUA for expanded powers with some success as well. Most recently, during our Capitol Day legislative meetings, bankers raised the public policy concern over non-tax paying institutions acquiring assets either through branch acquisition or whole bank acquisition of taxpaying institutions. The permanent loss of revenue this presents for government should be a growing concern. 

Given the need for government at the local, state, and federal level to search for more diverse revenue sources, the WBA Board asked staff earlier this year to form a Credit Union Task Force of bankers to research and suggest a strategy to help move us closer to the goal of credit union fairness. The group met Monday afternoon to continue its brainstorming and discussions from its first meeting in February. A representative from both ICBA and ABA also shared their organization’s respective activities this last year and ideas heading into 2021. 

The work of the task force will wrap up later this Fall and will likely consist of, among other ideas, three tangible action steps for the Government Relations Committee and WBA Board to consider for 2021. It is very clear that the large credit unions are not what they seem, and WBA, with the help of our members, is ready to execute on an active strategy. 

Members of the WBA task force include: Charlie Schmalz, East Wisconsin Savings Bank, Kaukauna; Ryan Kamphuis, Bristol Morgan Bank, Oakfield; Ed Schaefer, First Federal Bank of Wisconsin, Altoona; Jimmy Kauffman, Bank of Sun Prairie; Jay McKenna, North Shore Bank, Brookfield ; Dan Ravenscroft, Royal Bank, Elroy; Mike Gargaro, Coulee Bank, La Crosse; Gary Kuter, Capitol Bank, Madison; and Clark Yolitz, Dairy State Bank, Menomonie. 

I encourage you to contact me, or any member of the task force if you have questions or specific suggestions for us to consider as we finalize a strategy.

By, Ally Bates