Tax, smattering of smaller issues eyed by bank group |

Tax, smattering of smaller issues eyed by bank group

Judith Harlan

Usury, bank drafts, death benefits these are the many things that banks are keeping an eye on during the 73rd legislature session.

That’s in addition to the bank tax, of course, says Bill Uffelman, president and chief executive officer of the Nevada Bankers Association.

Uffelman, camped out in a Carson City hotel for the duration of the legislative session, has been making the case for repeal or amendment of the statute (effective January 2004) that taxes financial institutions at 2 percent of gross payroll and adds a $7,000 annual tax per branch.

That tax is the biggest issue, says Uffelman.

It’s the one that swept financial institutions from banks to financial consultants, to pawnshops and payday loan businesses into its net and hit the bottom line of them all.

“It’s not fair,” contends Uffelman, not as long as other businesses in the state pay a tax of only .067 percent of gross payroll.

But while all eyes are on the bank tax, financial institutions are watching a few other, less bright stars as well.

A bill draft request entered by Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Clark County District 9, last May introduced the idea of a usury law to set a cap on interest rates at prime plus 2 percent.Her concern is the payday loan business and protection of over-extended consumers, but the interest cap applies to all financial institutions.

Giunchigliani’s hope, she says, is to have the draft formalized within two to three weeks.Her draft has caught Uffelman’s attention.

Nevada has been without a usury law since 1981.

And Uffelman will be asking why now? Also, he’ll watch what’s included in the interest calculation.

If a bank’s fees and charges are included, he’ll find that problematic, he says.

And then there’s the Uniform Transfer on Death Security Registration Act.

Banks want a slight change in language that would allow investment management or custody accounts that are held in bank trust divisions to go to beneficiaries without going through probate court.

Currently these types of accounts in brokerage firms already have this advantage.

Things get even more esoteric, too, in Uffelman’s portfolio of legislative concerns.A few minor changes to the language in the Uniform Commercial Code defining thirdparty transactions those times, for example, when a bank customer authorizes a business to charge against a bank account without a handwritten check.

Adding a few words, including “demand draft,”will legitimize the way business is already being done, says Uffelman.


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