Credit unions have to restrict membership in order to receive the preferential tax treatment of a non-profit entity. Interpretation of the laws governing the tax status has swung from being fairly restrictive in the descriptions of what constitutes a member to becoming all encompassing resulting in nearly everyone being eligible for membership through some connection. Officially, anyone can join a credit union based on the specific credit unions definition of an eligible member. Membership restrictions that credit unions impose are broadly defined to cover anyone who shares a common bond of employer, educational institution, branch of the military or government, church or community.

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