When I was in my late 20s, I had two preschool children, a mortgage, a stay-at-home wife and barely enough income to make ends meet. Emergencies, such as car repair or a broken appliance, presented a big financial challenge for us. One summer the refrigerator quit working. I called my friend Barry, who had just taken over his father’s commercial refrigeration business, and asked who he would recommend I contact. Barry said he would stop by and check it out. When he came by, he discovered that the refrigerator required a part, which he had, and he installed it. Problem solved.
Later, when I received a bill for the part, the line item for labor was marked $0.00. Grateful, I sent Barry a note thanking Barry for his kind gesture. Then I wrote, “You have to be paid for your service in order to stay in business, so enclosed is an extra $50 that I hope covers your labor.”
Though I could have used the financial break that Barry had offered, I knew that it wasn’t right. That is probably why it bothers me so much that the $1 trillion credit union industry and the government-sponsored retail competitor, the Farm Credit System (FCS), continue to fight against doing what is right — paying their fair share of federal and state taxes to support the services provided by government. The credit union industry and the FCS stand at the front of the line when it comes to seeking government business or benefits. Yet they do not pay for soldiers to defend this great nation. They do not pay their fair share for roads, bridges, public transportation, public schools, state-supported universities, police and fire protection, etc.
Why is it that, when I was 20-something years old, living hand-to-mouth, I was paying more in federal taxes than the entire credit union industry?
Credit unions sometimes defend themselves by touting that they are mutually owned by their depositors. They overlook that there are several hundred thrift organizations that are mutually owned by their depositors, yet they pay federal taxes. Additionally there are several hundred mutually owned insurance companies, owned by their policyholders, yet they pay federal taxes, too.
It is well past time that these favored industries — the credit union industry and the FCS — be required to contribute their fair share to the various levels of government that provide services to them, train their employees, pave the roads for customers to find them and pay soldiers to defend “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Ask Congress to do the right thing. Let’s require credit unions and the Farm Credit System to help support this great nation!