By Robert Trunzo
Early last month, the Iowa legislature passed the largest tax overhaul in state history. Absent from the final bill was a Senate-passed tax on credit unions.
If adopted, the bill would have set a dangerous precedent for the credit union tax status across the nation, emboldening the bank lobby with a playbook for success. As we know all too well, any tax on credit unions is ultimately a tax on the credit union members we serve every day.
Fortunately, local credit union grassroots advocacy efforts again proved more powerful than the bank lobby. When news spread in February that the Iowa Senate passed a tax bill that included a new tax on credit unions, the Iowa Credit Union League, CUNA Mutual Group, CUNA, credit unions and members across Iowa mobilized and took to the Iowa State Capitol to advocate for credit unions and educate lawmakers about the credit union difference.
CUNA Mutual Group is domiciled in Iowa, and we have 550 employees at our Waverly office. As a company passionate about helping credit unions succeed, our people were eager to oppose the inclusion of credit unions in the bill. Over the next two months, we joined forces with other credit union advocates to demonstrate how credit unions earn their tax-exempt status every day.
Our Waverly employees generated hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls to local representatives, expressing concern about the tax bill and urging lawmakers to protect the credit union tax status. Many drove several hours to attend Hike the Hill events at the state capitol in Des Moines to tell legislators personal stories about their credit union experiences.
We hosted legislators at our Waverly office to show how CUNA Mutual Group supports credit unions and explain the credit union difference. We also joined credit union leaders to testify before the Iowa House Ways and Means Committee in support of the credit union tax exemption.
Proud and Grateful
I’m proud of our employees and their dedication to helping credit unions and their members. I’m grateful for their efforts and applaud all credit union supporters who took the time to speak to legislators and advocate on behalf of credit unions in Iowa and nationwide. Their voices were critical in having the final Iowa tax bill pass without a tax increase on credit unions.
It’s that spirt of cooperation and unity that has been a hallmark of credit unions for so many years. This was another team win but, as we have learned over the years, the battle is never over. The Iowa bankers have already stated they will be back again in the 2019 legislative session.
Be proud of what you accomplished, but remain vigilant. There will be another day when we need to band together yet again to defend credit unions and members. Please remember that whenever there is a fight that threatens credit unions, CUNA Mutual Group will continue to be there to help.
Robert N. Trunzo is president and CEO of CUNA Mutual Group. Contact him at Robert.Trunzo@cunamutual.com.