The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce expressed its support today for the Provincial Government’s decision allowing credit unions to keep their preferential tax advantage at least through 2017.
Tom Dyas, President of the Kelowna Chamber, said “Our Chamber has lobbied against this tax increase. Starting in 2015, we took this policy recommendation forward to the BC Chamber’s Annual Policy meeting.”
‘In lobbying for this policy,” Dyas said, “we asked that the small business tax benefit be extended permanently – benefiting many institutions, not just credit unions. Further, our advocacy policy recommends that we continue to work with credit unions to help them meet their needs with regulations and tax regimes that keep them strong and viable.”
The one-year pause, included in the Balanced Budget 2017 introduction February 21, is subject to the approval of the legislative assembly.
Premier Christy Clark is presenting “Budget Recap 2017” to the Kelowna Chamber’s members on Friday February 24 in Kelowna. Local Chamber member Interior Savings Credit Union applauded the decision to hold off on the increase for credit unions.
Kathy Conway, the President and CEO of interior Savings, said she is “pleased” the government listened to credit unions, and that she looks forward to “continued consultation. . . to ensure BC credit unions can maintain our current level of investment in local communities.”
Don Coulter, president and CEO of Coast Capital Savings, a recent credit union arrival in the Okanagan, said “We’re pleased the province has recognized the value we provide to our 532,000 members and has heard our requests to reconsider this tax decision.”
“At Prospera we are truly appreciative of the decision to defer the tax increase,” said Shawn Good, President and CEO of Prospera Credit Union. “This announcement will not only impact credit unions but also the BC economy and small businesses as it enables us to maintain our level of investment in community initiatives and serve our local small businesses and families.”
At Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, President Susan Ewanick, said "Pausing the tax hike on credit unions is good news for Valley First, credit unions and local businesses.”
“In BC”, said Ewanick, “businesses rely on their local credit unions as their preferred financial services provider. Credit unions are cooperatives and so have a different structure than joint-stock banks. This means credit unions raise their own capital by reinvesting profits back into the cooperative in order to support small business loans. Maintaining lower taxes means more funds can be directed toward a credit union’s loan portfolio.”
Ewanick goes on to say, “From the very start, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has been a leading advocate, calling for a return to fair taxation for credit unions. They should be applauded for seeing the connection between strong, local credit unions and a vibrant, growing business sector in greater Kelowna and throughout the entire province."
Tom Dyas concludes, “I am looking forward to hearing the Premier’s budget recap on February 24, and have confidence that going forward, the right decision will be made on the issue of the small business tax as it applies to provincial credit unions.”