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Financial Institutions: Issues Regarding the Tax-Exempt Status of Credit Unions

GAO-06-220T Published: Nov 03, 2005. Publicly Released: Nov 03, 2005.
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Unlike other depository institutions, credit unions are exempt from federal corporate income taxes. Recent legislative and regulatory changes to credit union membership restrictions and allowable products and services have blurred some of the historical distinctions between credit unions and other depository institutions. As a result, some observers have raised questions about whether tax exemption provides credit unions with an advantage over other depository institutions and whether the original basis for tax exemption is still valid. As part of its continuing oversight of the tax-exempt sector, the House Committee on Ways and Means asked GAO to address (1) the historical basis for the tax-exempt status of credit unions; (2) the arguments for and against taxation, including estimates of potential revenue from eliminating the exemption; (3) the extent to which credit unions offer services distinct from those offered by banks of comparable size, and serve low-and moderate-income individuals; and (4) the extent to which credit unions are required to report information on executive compensation and assessments of their internal controls.

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Banking lawBanking regulationComparative analysisCredit unionsExecutive compensationFinancial institutionsIncome taxesInternal controlsReporting requirementsTax exempt organizationsTax exempt statusCooperatives