Australian Credit Unions Pay Both Taxes and Volunteers

LAS VEGAS — July 21, 2010 - Australian credit unions pay both taxes and volunteers. However, like in the U.S., the loss of interchange income is a sore subject.

Louise Petschler, chief executive officer of Abacus-Australian Mutuals, the country’s national credit union trade organization, shared unique aspects of her country’s system during a general session. She was joined on a panel by CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel and Herve Guider, general manager of the European Association of Cooperative Banks who hails from Belgium.

Australia’s credit union volunteers are paid because "they take on very serious obligations, and we expect a lot from them," Petschler said, adding the posts can be as time consuming as a full-time job. 

Both Petschler and Guider said credit unions in their systems are regulated and taxed just like banks, unlike in the U.S., where Hampel said tax-free status consistently rates as the top legislative concern in CUNA membership surveys.

Taxes "had a big impact on profitability initially" when enacted in the early 1990s, Petschler said, but now the expense is managed as a part of regular operations. (CU Times)