ABA survey: Public believes credit unions should be treated like banks

U.S. consumers are generally unaware of the differences between banks and credit unions, and they believe credit unions should be held to the same standards as the banks, according to a new survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the American Bankers Association. A majority of respondents (62%) said that Congress should examine whether credit unions are providing enough community benefit to warrant their existing tax exemption, while only 14% opposed such an examination. It has been nearly 20 years since Congress last held a hearing to conduct oversight of the federal tax exemption that credit unions receive, ABA noted

Only 18% of Americans are aware that credit unions do not pay federal taxes, while 82% are unaware of credit unions’ tax status, according to the survey. Nearly a third of consumers mistakenly believed that credit unions pay taxes. Nearly three times as many consumers believe credit unions should pay federal taxes just like banks compared to those who feel they should not (49% vs. 18%, respectively). A majority of consumers also believe that credit unions should be subject to community reinvestment reporting requirements that quantify their effects on all segments of their communities, including low- and moderate-income areas, just like banks (53% in support vs. 15% in opposition, respectively).

The survey also asked respondents about their perceptions of nonbanks in general. Most adults said they care if the business that handles their finances is regulated like a bank (65%). A majority (80%) said that any business providing bank-like services to consumers should have to comply with the same rules and regulations that banks do.