Abandoned Mission

During the Great Depression, the federal government incentivized credit unions to provide consumer-focused financial services to people of modest means by granting them a tax exemption. Given the severity of that economic crisis, the policy was crafted to help at-risk communities weather difficult times by expanding access to credit. However, the industry has evolved over the last 100 years calling into question their preferential tax and regulatory treatment. 

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Expert Views

Erica York, Tax Foundation
“Given the change in the financial sector over the last several decades, it would be useful for lawmakers to reexamine the extent to which credit unions currently fulfill their original purpose. If they have strayed from their intended function and now resemble other taxed financial institutions, their exemption would represent a disparity across similar economic activities.” 
— Tax Foundation, 2018
Karen Shaw Petrou, Federal Financial Analytics, Inc.
“About half of all credit unions are allowed to use ‘secondary’ capital instruments generally barred for banks. Credit unions that issue this capital fail at a rate that is 362 percent greater than conservative institutions. Proposals to expand the use of these instruments thus may increase overall solvency risk in the credit-union sector, exposing members and the broader economy to risk.” 
— Federal Financial Analytics, 2019
Aaron Klein, The Brookings Institute
“But if your word is your bond, does everyone who speaks share a common bond? In that case, the concept of a common bond is meaningless. That is the direction that the nation’s credit union movement, including its federal regulator, appears to be moving — and that’s something the public and policymakers need to stop and think about.” 
— The Brookings Institution, 2017
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Large Credit Unions Have Abandoned Their Mission

Recent News and Insights


A study by the New Hampshire Bankers Association and the Community Bankers of New Hampshire found that 44 percent of small banks in the state serve New Hampshire’s least wealthy counties, while only 15 percent of credit union branches (14 branches) serve those similar areas.


In an effort to expand memberships and profits, Montana First Credit Union has attempted multiple times to merge with various other mega credit unions, including Horizon Credit Union.

See the impact on taxes in your state.

Tell Congress it’s time to reform credit unions.