CA and NV Credit Unions Deliver $1.64 Billion Benefit to Marketplace

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California and Nevada credit unions delivered a combined $1.64 billion in total public benefits to members and non-members alike within the financial services marketplace in 2017, according to a study released this week.

The latest white paper (click here to view) reveals a $1.59 billion benefit from 311 credit unions headquartered in California and $52.9 million from 16 credit unions based in Nevada. The results were published by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), which showed a much larger $15 billion in marketplace benefits nationwide from more than 5,700 credit unions in operation.

Credit unions have been able to provide a steady, reliable and community-based alternative to other financial-service providers thanks to their historical mission of “People Helping People” and their federal tax exemption granted and upheld by Congress.

The study takes into account estimated lost tax revenues to the federal government due to the federal credit union corporate income tax exemption, but balances that perspective by shining light on the following areas:

  • Estimated increase in tax revenue arising from higher credit union deposit-savings yields.
  • Estimated foregone tax revenue net of savings yield taxes.
  • Estimated total member benefits.
  • Estimated non-member benefits.
  • Total public benefit net of tax exemption.

“Credit unions’ tax status was conveyed in the earliest days of the American tax code to support and sustain a system of cooperative financial services that would provide an alternative to the for-profit banking sector and promote members' best interests,” said CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle. “Alterations to that tax status would threaten the survival of the nation’s 5,700 credit unions, erode the financial well-being of 110 million credit union members, and result in the loss of the broader benefits credit unions provide to society, such as promoting small business investment and financial literacy.”

Other highlights of the paper include:

  • The Office of Management and Budget’s most recent estimate of the credit union “tax expenditure” is $2.9 billion in 2017. This figure is expected to decrease by 40 percent (to roughly $1.7 billion in 2018) because of the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act.
  • The benefits that credit unions provide to members and others far exceed the credit union tax expenditure, amounting to an estimated $15 billion in 2017 alone.
  • Credit unions paid roughly $17 billion in other federal, state and local taxes in the most recent tax year.
  • Any new tax on credit unions represent a tax increase on the 110 million members of credit unions—who collectively paid an estimated $1.4 trillion in state and federal income taxes in 2016. Income taxes on these not-for-profit institutions would offset only 0.4 percent of the federal government’s budget deficit.
  • CUNA calculated that in 2017 credit unions contributed $116 billion in valued added or economic activity to the U.S. economy.
  • Sixty-one percent of credit union members, who rely primarily on their credit union, have annual incomes between $25,000 and $100,000.
  • Due to their lower risk profile, credit unions continued to lend during the recent financial crisis—even as other financial institutions failed or had to curtail operations due to damaged balance sheets caused by riskier practices leading up to the crisis.

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