Credit unions in Oklahoma are growing at a faster rate than banks, which banks attribute to credit unions' tax-exempt status, according to a new report from the American Bankers Association.
Credit unions in the state posted annualized growth of 7.34 percent from 2002 to 2012, compared to 6.17 percent for Oklahoma banks, according to the report.
Oklahoma banks paid more than $1.6 billion in state, federal and other taxes in 2012, the report said. Nonprofit credit unions don't pay taxes.
The banking industry has long taken issue with credit unions' nonprofit status, said Roger Beverage, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Bankers Association.
Credit unions were introduced in the United States by federal legislation in the 1930s to help serve the financial needs of the poor and working class, but the industry has outgrown its nonprofit status, Beverage said.
Matthew Stratton, vice president of marketing for Tinker Federal Credit Union, said the banking industry's campaign against credit unions' nonprofit status is like health clubs criticizing the YMCA's nonprofit status.
“I find it interesting that there doesn't seem to be any other industry in which the for-profits get so angry at the nonprofits,” Stratton said.
Beverage said credit unions have expanded customer bases and have begun offering more of the same products and services as banks.
“Their status as nonprofit gives them a competitive advantage that, frankly, bankers think is unfair,” Beverage said.