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When the Florida CU League got wind that Florida Tax Watch was working on a study of the credit union tax exemption, the league did what any proactive trade association would do: it became a member of Florida Tax Watch (FTW).

About a month ago, the league became a paying member of Florida Tax Watch, a "watchdog" group that has long had an excellent reputation in the state for its nonpartisan approach to taxation issues. The group's members are made up of businesses and individuals alike who make a donation to help fund FTW's operations.

"We knew it was coming, and we were hoping that, as a member of Florida Tax Watch, we would receive a copy of the report early or at least get advance warning," FCUL's Mark Ivester said. "But the first we heard of it was when a reporter called us to ask us about it. When they held their press conference, they arranged for people to be able to call into the conference and ask questions. When we tried to call in, they wouldn't even let us in. So much for the benefits of membership."

Ivester said representatives of the league sat down with FTW leadership to discuss the credit union tax exemption. "We tried to warn them that it they're doing a study that says the tax exemption is based on size that the exemption has never been based on size, but obviously, they didn't listen," Ivester suggested. "Of course, we realize that when you hire the band, you expect them to play your music, and the bankers paid for this study."

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