Credit Union (noun) – not-for-profit, consumer-focused cooperative
Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014
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Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives. They were first exempted from federal income taxes in 1917 to fulfill a special mission as valuable and affordable cooperative alternatives to for-profit banks. Even though credit unions are exempt from income tax, they still are subject to, and pay, property, payroll, and sales taxes, and a host of governmental regulatory supervision fees. Since their inception, credit unions have more than fulfilled their mission, as evidenced by Congressional codification of the credit union tax exemption in 1951 and 1998. Though the range of services has evolved to effectively serve their members in an increasingly competitive financial marketplace, the cooperative structure, which is the reason for their tax exempt status, has remained constant. Nationally, consumers benefit to the tune of $10 billion annually because credit unions are tax-exempt. In Illinois, by most recent estimates credit unions annually provide nearly $195 million in direct financial benefits to almost three million members. In an era that continuously poses economic and financial challenges, credit unions remain true to one principle - people before profits - and represent a highly valued resource by consumers during these uncertain economic times.