I found the opinion piece by Patrick LaPine, president of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates, — published in The Palm Beach Post — “Point of View: Lawmakers can give local government depository choice,” March 10 — misleading and self-serving.
The government gave credit unions their tax-free status because they were to be nonprofits that had a limited customer base, laying the groundwork for an uneven playing field. Now, they are back asking the government to do even more by letting them once again expand their powers by accepting public deposits, such as those from local governments, school boards, universities and colleges.
It is the height of irony that the credit unions are asking the government to let them accept public deposits, which are the same tax revenues that they do not contribute. Why should the government create a more unlevel playing field by letting credit unions hold these tax revenues?
Most banks pay as much as 40 percent in state and federal corporate income taxes; credit unions pay nothing. LaPine misrepresented the facts, highlighting that credit unions pay typical employer taxes while failing to mention that, unlike any business in America, credit unions pay absolutely nothing in state and federal corporate income taxes. Florida small businesses pay more in those corporate taxes and, in addition, pay sales, income and intangible taxes — none of which credit unions pay.
LaPine continues his fallacious argument by stating that Chapter S chartered community banks, like credit unions, are exempt from paying corporate income taxes. The truth is that for Chapter S, a benefit allowed for many small businesses, the owners pay the state and federal taxes while credit unions pay nothing.
The reality is that credit unions are looking to further expand their powers even though their charters clearly state they are designed to serve individuals with a common bond and of modest means.
There is room for both credit unions and banks to compete and thrive, but we should do so on a level and fair playing field. Why don’t large credit unions pay taxes to support the needs of our state and nation, like the war on terror, defense needs, the needs of our children and seniors, our transportation needs, and all the other needs we have? Banks do.
Until credit unions pay their fair share of taxes, the government should not pick winners and losers in the economy and credit unions shouldn’t be able to accept taxpayers’ public deposits.
ALEX SANCHEZ, TALLAHASSEE
Editor’s note: Alex Sanchez is president and CEO of the Florida Bankers Association.