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A Direct Line Blog

The Economic Benefit of Credit Unions

November 15, 2017 7:30 am

By Tracie Kenyon

As a credit union volunteer, you are acutely aware of the benefit that your not-for-profit cooperative provides to your members…but did you know that having credit unions in the marketplace also benefits non-members?

Credit unions offer direct and indirect benefits

CUNA Economics and Statistics estimated that, for the year ending June 2017, the direct financial benefit to Montana credit unions members was $21.7 million – much of that is in the savings provided due to favorable rates on loans and services, while some of it is in higher dividends paid on savings.

Here’s something that I find truly compelling: the same research indicates that the indirect financial benefits that non-members receive is $8.4 million! To use a phrase from a 1980s TV show: that’s incredible!

Credit unions, by their very presence, create value to all Montanans by keeping prices and services competitive. Here’s one small example from my past: many years ago, when I still lived in Utah, a credit union opened a branch in a small community that only had banking services. The credit union’s hours were 9-5; the bank had always closed at 3. Guess what happened? You got it, the bank expanded their hours. A direct benefit to the residents of that community.

And speaking of banks … With tax reform looming on the horizon, I expect that we’ll hear some noise about taxing credit unions.

Taxing credit unions makes no sense

I have lots of arguments about our structure and governance that should be persuasive in beating that back; however, here’s a really convincing statistic: if Montana’s credit unions all paid income taxes based on current income, it would amount to $7.9 million. Notice anything about that number? It’s smaller than the indirect financial benefit credit unions provide to non-members!

In other words, Montana’s credit unions give back to non-members $500,000 MORE than would be generated in taxes.

Montana’s economy is $30.1 million richer due to credit unions … these are real dollars spent in your local economies … just another reason to be proud of your volunteer service. Thanks for all you do!

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