Ten tax tips to avoid costly mistakes

first_imgHopefully, these ten tax tips will provide you with an accurate and cost efficient filing of your 2014 income tax return.by: Bonnie Lee, TaxpertiseWe’re rolling into the April 15 deadline very soon. Hopefully, these ten tax tips will provide you with an accurate and cost efficient filing of your 2014 income tax return. Keep in mind that mistakes made on a tax return can cause refund delays because it takes the IRS longer to process your tax return. Some mistakes may cause your tax return to be rejected during the electronic filing process. And many other errors can flag you for audit or cost you penalties.Here are ten tips to make this tax season less stressful:Make sure that all Social Security numbers for you, your spouse and your dependents have been entered accurately and as shown on the social security cards.If your dependent had income and filed a tax return but still qualified as your dependent, make sure he or she checked the applicable box(es) on line 5 of Form 1040-EZ to indicate that he/she is being taken as a dependent on another person’s tax return. Otherwise, your tax return will be rejected for e-filing. You may have to file an extension for your tax return then amend your dependent’s tax return, allowing eight weeks for processing before filing you tax return.Are you using the correct filing status? If you are single you may qualify as Head of Household. Then again you may not. Use the Interactive-Tax-Assistant on the IRS website to determine your correct filing status. It makes a difference in how much tax you will pay.Make sure the names on the tax return match exactly to the Social Security cards. Don’t use nicknames; use given names as shown on the Social Security card otherwise, you risk rejection of the electronic filed return thus delaying your refund.Check your math! Even if you are using tax software, math errors can occur. For example, you list your charitable contributions on Schedule A for a total of $2000. But when you run a tape off your cancelled checks, it adds up to $1,500. Find the discrepancy and correct it. continue reading » 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Home sales at six-year high: NAR

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by: David MorrisonHome buyers who borrow money to purchase homes rather than refinance their existing debt helped push existing home sales in May to their highest rate in six years, according to the National Association of Realtors.Total existing-home sales – which refer to completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose by 5.1% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million in May from an upwardly revised 5.09 million in April, the association reported. Sales have now increased year-over-year for eight consecutive months and are 9.2% above where they stood a year ago, NAR added. continue reading »last_img read more

Plaintiffs file memo opposing dismissal of Home Depot suit

first_imgPlaintiffs in the Home Depot data breach lawsuit filed a brief last week opposing the company’s motion to dismiss.Counsel representing CUNA, state credit union leagues and credit unions filed the brief as part of their lawsuit seeking recovery and injunctive relief associated with Home Depot’s 2014 data breach that compromised 56 million credit and debit cards.Home Depot filed a motion to dismiss the complaint against it on July 1, arguing the plaintiffs had not adequately alleged concrete injury. Plaintiff’s opposition brief states that plaintiffs had out-of-pocket financial loss from reimbursing their customers for fraud losses stemming from the breach, and reissuing cards in the face of substantial risk of actual and impending harm–injuries plaintiffs’ counsel argue are sufficient to bring this matter before the court.“Plaintiffs’ costs of reimbursing fraud losses were not incurred to mitigate future harm but from a legal duty to redress fraudulent acts that already had occurred,” the brief reads. “As a result, there is no question plaintiffs have standing.”Susan Parisi, CUNA’s chief counsel, said plaintiff’s counsel is optimistic that a ruling on the motion to dismiss will be favorable to the plaintiffs. The case will then proceed to the discovery phase of litigation, where a formal exchange of information will take place. continue reading » 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

CUNA and state leagues

first_img 12SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Wendell Fountain Dr. Wendell V. Fountain has been President/Principal Consultant of Fountain & Associates Business & Management Consultants since 1984. Wendell is a credit union strategist, speaker, and author. He has … Web: www.wendellfountain.com Details I stay somewhat befuddled and perplexed about this business of requiring credit unions to be members of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) as a prerequisite to joining a state league. Credit unions pay dues to both of these organizations. CUNA is not the U.S. federal government which requires all states to fall under its jurisdiction; although, like the federal government, CUNA has become somewhat bloated and duplicative. This requirement seems to violate the very tenets of freedom of choice. When I served on the board of a credit union, this issue resurfaced every year, and we usually capitulated and maintained our memberships in CUNA and our state league, but not all of us board members agreed on this approach. Since our organization was rather large, so were our dues, and some of us had difficulty in justifying the expenditure of our members’ money to CUNA. This prompted some of us to question the value we received for the services provided. In fact, there were occasions in which we questioned our need to even be a member of the state league.Most state league CEO’s are rather reluctant to challenge this dual requirement, and the reason, I surmise, is more political than anything else. Dave Adams, CEO/President of the Michigan League, believes that they (the league) should have control over its membership requirements, not an external entity which possesses common goals. After all, aren’t there already enough rules, regulations, directives, bulletins, procedures, and policies in existence governing credit unions without adding more? What’s wrong with mutual exclusivity? There is too much overlap in what the state leagues and CUNA do for the approximately 7,000 credit unions in the United States.Where is the justification for any state league to insist that a credit union must hold membership in CUNA? This is not intended to be a criticism of state leagues or CUNA, but historical practice is not a sufficient explanation. Just because CUNA is the largest trade association in America isn’t enough. Neither can it be justified on the basis of past practice. Something done in the past doesn’t mean that it should be continued into the future. Times, the economy, and conditions change. If the members’ money is to be expended, there should be sound financial and fiduciary grounds for that decision. Logically, this requirement could be extrapolated to include other trade associations such as the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES)–among others.I’ve always wondered about the action of the largest credit union in the world, Navy FCU, back in December of 2007 when it “disaffiliated” from CUNA. Today that organization has 5.7 million members and now exceeds $70 billion in assets. According to the Credit Union Times, dated December 6, 2007, the rationale provided then was because of the use of a lobbyist in common by CUNA and payday lenders. Simultaneously, as an aside, CUNA also “disaffiliated” with the Virginia Credit Union League at that time. From past experience, it seems to me that credit unions which have asset sizes in billions of dollars and large memberships do not, necessarily, need the services of CUNA. For that matter, for such credit unions, probably not even a state league membership is necessary.The question is why should this practice continue? The answer usually given is because CUNA and state leagues are important to smaller credit unions, and that is probably not arguable, but why should memberships of large complex credit unions be responsible for small or fledgling credit unions? This is where credit union philosophy comes into play. The very nature of credit unions as nonprofit cooperatives lends credence to the credo of “people helping people.” With that in mind, it is my belief that all leaderships of credit unions should act in the best interest of individual credit unions. It does not comport well that a state league “requires” a credit union to be a member of CUNA. I say bravo to CEO/President, Dave Adams, and the Michigan Credit Union League. Recently, the Carolinas Credit Union League board of directors unanimously decided to allow its 149 credit unions to join the league without requiring them to join CUNA. In conclusion, it is logical and reasonable for all state leagues and others such as the Carolinas to stop requiring credit unions to have to be a member of CUNA before becoming a member of any other organization.last_img read more

Utilize member-facing documents to grow your auto lending portfolio

first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr By December 2015, credit unions saw massive growth in auto loans with balances projected to reach the highest to-date: $264.7 billion, according to Callahan & Associates. Furthermore, credit unions bagged 16.5% of the auto market, which is the highest year-end rate since December 2009 at 19.9%.In an effort to aid credit unions in their continued pursuit of auto lending portfolio growth this year, here are some ways to utilize member-facing documents to meet this strategic goal:Segment Your AudienceBecause there is no such thing as a cookie-cutter member, standard marketing will not produce the same response rate as segment marketing. According to MailChimp, segmented email campaigns see 59.99% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns. Incorporating targeting and personalization in your documents using business rules and workflows provide the ability to significantly improve your print marketing ROI. continue reading »last_img read more

NCUA bans six former credit union employees

first_img 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » Six former credit union employees, including two CEOs, a commercial services manager, a teller and a senior member service representative were banned from participating in the affairs of a federally insured financial institution, according to a prepared statement Friday from the NCUA.Karen Schenck, the former president/CEO of the $4.6 million Corry Area Federal Credit Union in Corry, Pa., pleaded guilty to embezzlement. She was sentenced in May to two years in prison, and five years of supervised release. Schenck was also ordered to pay $741,362 in restitution.Theresa J. Blageo, the former president/CEO of the $2.5 million Eaton Employees Credit Union in Eden Prairie, Minn., consented to a prohibition order and agreed to comply with all of its terms to settle the NCUA’s claims against her, which were not specified by the federal agency. Although Blageo was not convicted of any crime, federal court records show she declared Chapter 13 bankruptcy along with her husband in December 2009 while she was president/CEO of the credit union. They had more than $600,000 in debts, according to court records.  The bankruptcy case was discharged in April 2015. Blageo, who became the CEO in September 2002, left the credit union in January 2016.Allison M. Bushart, a former teller at the $5.6 billion Patelco Credit Union in Pleasanton, Calif., who stole from senior citizens, including a few who had dementia, pleaded guilty to embezzlement and submitting a false federal tax return. Bushart was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison in March and three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $521,661 in restitution.last_img read more

Re-emerging overdraft programs must focus on service, responsibility

first_imgThe conversation about overdrafts has been somewhat non-existent the past several months as credit unions patiently wait for impending compliance directives, changes within the CFPB and an uptick in the economy. It seems now–with positive movement regarding all these concerns–it’s time to start talking about the opportunity they represent and the best way to seize it. CUES recently reported that “with The Financial Choice Act likely to pass Congress, compliance on overdrafts appears headed for less restriction.” This assertion is based on the fact that part of the proposed Financial Choice Act dismantles key parts of Dodd-Frank, which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), whose role would be redefined under a new name. The act–among other improvements–“removes the board’s opaque and ill-defined unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and Practices (UDAAP) authority,” while still emphasizing consumer protection. The bill passed in the House on June 8 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.In the meantime, before The Financial Choice Act is adopted, CFPB director Richard Cordray has stated, “We are not proposing any regulatory amendments at this time” and with less than a year left in his term (and the possibilities that President Trump may oust him earlier or Cordray may run for Governor of Ohio and be required to step down), the likelihood of any new legislation may indeed be dubious.This movement toward less restrictive regulation should be encouraging to credit unions that seek to provide overdraft protection for members who choose–and can afford–to take advantage of it. Indeed, trends suggest that use of the service is on the rise.Research firm Moebs recently reported that the marketplace is poised to rebound and, when it does, consumers will “begin spending more, saving less and accessing overdraft privilege more often.” When this happens, the firm projects overdraft revenue will rise to an historic high of $40 billion by 2020. What is the best way for credit unions to take advantage of the new overdraft landscape? Focus on service to the consumer (and risk-management for the institution) by implementing customized and protective measures, including: Set overdraft limits that align with the member’s ability to repay—Setting a fixed overdraft limit (for instance, paying all overdrafts up to $500/day) for every consumer based solely on account type could result in certain members receiving a limit higher than what they can afford. Likewise, members who can afford a higher limit (based on a myriad of account data points, including specific deposit and overdraft activity and related balances) may be restricted from paying for necessary expenses when the fixed limit is not high enough to accommodate the purchase amount. When this happens, your credit union runs the risk of losing this member to a program that is more in tune with his financial needs and habits.Produce communications that are personalized and tailored to each member’s situation—Whether your credit union relies on internal resources, core-generated communications or third-party software, personalized and dynamic messages improve engagement, maximize collections, retain members and help manage risk.An overdraft technology platform that tracks multiple account data points can ensure your overdraft communications are not only branded to your credit union (down to the branch manager’s signature), but also contain completely relevant, custom messaging that coincides with activities, like: The timing of overdraft communications and the method of delivery (i.e., call/email/letter/text) are also important to enhance service and manage risk. And obviously, your ability to identify frequent ‘overdrafters’ and provide counseling alternatives and repayment plans is crucial.Adopt disclosures that clearly define the program and pricing—A recent article by compliance expert Temenos suggests that choosing the right words in your overdraft disclosures is critical, even down to whether you refer to it as “privilege, protection, program, service or coverage.” Currently, the CFPB is field testing four sample overdraft disclosure forms, which it released earlier this month. These “Know Before You Owe” forms attempt to make it easier for consumers to understand overdraft protection policies and procedures, especially with regard to debit card/ATM transactions. The outcome of these tests may be months away or more, but the more the consumer understands about your overdraft program, the better. After all, studies have shown that the majority of ‘overdrafters’ (which is only a small percentage of members) willingly use the service as a result of informed choice. Director Cordray acknowledged this fact on multiple occasions saying the CFPB is not looking to do away with overdraft services. Instead, he hinted at only minor consumer-focused changes, including new, ‘more transparent’ disclosures and possible changes to posting order. Seek an experienced overdraft service provider that provides a published set of best practices to ensure the most responsible way to take advantage of the re-emerging opportunity that overdrafts present. ATM/Debit Card Denial due to NSFOverdrawn BalancesDays OverdrawnMember Overdraft Repayment Capacity; and Other Changes in Account Activitycenter_img 22SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Jeff Harper Jeffrey Harper brings more than 25 years of industry experience to his position as president of ​BSG Financial Group. ​ where he heads up the Sales and Marketing divisions of the … Web: www.bsgfinancial.com Detailslast_img read more

Sharing kindred values locally and globally

first_img continue reading » 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Kindred Credit Union has a generations-long history of aligning values with finances. By joining GABV, Kindred is now collaborating within a global movement working to develop a positive, viable alternative to the current banking system.GABV is an independent network of banks, banking cooperatives, and credit unions, using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social, and environmental development. Founded in 2009, GABV includes over 43 financial institutions and seven strategic partners across the globe.Weber Marketing Group partnered with Kindred Credit Union, formerly Mennonite Savings and Credit Union, in 2015 to guide its strategic renaming process. At a time of declining net membership and other key metrics for the organization, this effort positioned the credit union to attract more like-minded members of the community desiring to make intentional financial decisions according to values such as peace and mutual aid. Within a year of its successful name change and brand repositioning, Kindred was more profitable than ever and experiencing historic best loan, deposit and mutual fund growth – proof that banking with purpose is not only good for the community, but a mission that draws passionate engagement from the community.last_img read more

5 reasons not to miss the 2018 Wegner Awards dinner

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr On December 4th, we opened up ticket sales for the 2018 National Credit Union Foundation Dinner Presenting the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards taking place on February 26, 2018 in conjunction with the CUNA GAC. Often referred to as the “Academy Awards” of the credit union movement, this annual dinner presents the highest national awards in the credit union movement. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should attend next year:This year is the 30th anniversary of the dinner. 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of celebrating influential and inspiring leaders from around the globe. For 30 years, leaders in the credit union movement have been coming together to celebrate each other and the power of the movement, and you can be a part of the milestone 30th year!We will be honoring 4 people with Outstanding Individual Achievement Awards. This year is special in that we will be honoring four individuals who have dedicated their lives to the credit union movement. You can join us as we honor Chuck Purvis, President/CEO at Coastal Credit Union; Susan Mitchell, CEO at Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates; Angel V. Castro, President of Castro y Asociados; and Bill Hampel, retired Chief Policy Officer and Economist at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). You can learn more about each of these winners by clicking here. continue reading »last_img read more

Get more leads through your credit union website by using lead magnets

first_imgAs a credit union marketer, your job is to increase deposits and loans. But did you know that only three percent of your audience wants to sign up for one of your products right now? According to Chet Holmes in his book The Ultimate Sales Machine, only about three percent of any organization’s audience is “buying now.” The other 97% are in various stages of the Buying Decision Process. Therefore, the supermajority of people don’t want to sign up today.The fact that 97% of your audience is not “buying now” means they need to be nurtured. In digital marketing, nurturing is a process of patiently educating and building relationships with prospects until they are ready to sign up. Nurturing begins by giving someone a reason to share their contact info with you. All you need is a first name and email address to start building a relationship. And in the beginning, it’s usually best to not ask for much because many studies show that the more info you ask for, the fewer leads you will generate. What is a lead magnet?How can you convince people to share their names and email addresses with you? One effective method is to use lead magnets, which are things you can offer in exchange for contact information. Ideally, you want a magnet to be valuable for the prospect, but inexpensive for you. That’s why information (such as research insights or educational content) is often used for lead magnets: info can be very valuable, yet cost little to share.Examples of lead magnetsAt BloomCU, we’ve had a lot of success using lead magnets to give credit union marketers reasons to share their names and email addresses with us. Then, once we begin a relationship, we continue to share valuable insights until they are ready for a new credit union website design. Granted, BloomCU’s audience is not the same as credit unions’. We are a Business-to-Business company (B2B) and credit unions serve consumers. Still, the principles that work for B2Bs also work for Business-to-Consumer organizations all over the world. Here’s an example of a lead magnet on the homepage of BloomCU.com:Almost every credit union marketer is a potential client for BloomCU because every credit union needs a website design at some point. Accordingly, we don’t try to sell you a website the moment you visit bloomcu.com. Instead, we play the long game. Initially, we just want to make a connection and gain your trust until you’re ready for a new digital branch. On our homepage, we essentially say, “We’re really good at credit union website design. In fact, we won more CUNA Diamond Awards for website designs this year than anyone else.” Then, we have a call to action that says, “Get Winning Insights.” When you click the button, you see this:We list several juicy resources we have to offer, many of which are very appealing to credit union marketers. Then, when you scroll down, you encounter the lead form:By this point, we’ve tried to build up the value of our insights so giving your first name and email address is a no-brainer. After you submit your contact information, we email you a link to all the resources we promised. And, going forward, we continue to share valuable insights and resources, which often come in the form of publications and articles about credit union website design. Here are few other examples of landing pages we’ve built for lead magnets:Personalization Increases Engagement by 31%Case Study with HFSFCU.orgA Guide to Stock Photo Sites for Credit UnionsA breakdown of the best stock photo sites, both free and premium5 Laws of Credit Union Website DesignFollow proven laws of user experience to design a world-class websiteUsability Testing WorksheetComplete This Simple Worksheet & Start Usability TestingA Guide to ADA Services for Credit Union WebsitesA side-by-side comparison of six popular ADA compliance solutionsWhat lead magnets could you create?What lead magnets could you create to start nurturing visitors to your credit union’s website? Here are a few ideas:3 negotiating tips to get the best price on a car (for people who visit your auto loan page)The ultimate guide to debt consolidation (for visitors who show interest in a secured loan)The 5 factors of a credit score (for people on your “Credit Builder Loan” page)Of course, you’ll need more than just good headlines for your lead magnets. Once a subscriber gets access to the content, it has to be truly valuable if it’s going to build the prospect’s trust in your credit union. So, put in some work to create a truly valuable piece of content to share. Your hard work will pay off because a good lead magnet will continue to work for you passively once it’s all set up, generating lead for you even while you sleep. 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Derik Krauss Derik is a cofounder of BloomCU, an award-winning website design agency for credit unions. His agency’s design work has received recognition from CUNA (Diamond Award), TheFinancialBrand.com, and others. He … Web: bloomCU.com Detailslast_img read more