20 Jan

IRS delays start of tax filing season

The Internal Revenue Service has delayed the start of the tax filing season to Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. The agency normally begins tax season in late January, however this year the IRS says it needs more time after Congress passed a second COVID relief package in late December 2020.

The IRS is still urging Americans to file electronically with direct deposit as soon as they have the information they need. People can begin filing their tax returns immediately with tax software companies, including IRS Free File partners. These groups have started to accept tax returns, and the returns will be transmitted to the IRS starting February 12.

The IRS anticipates nine out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days of when they file electronically with direct deposit if there are no issues with their tax return. The IRS urges taxpayers and tax professionals to file electronically to avoid delays in processing, avoiding filing paper returns wherever possible.

More than 150 million tax returns are expected to be filed this year, with the vast majority before the Thursday, April 15, deadline. For additional information about steps to speed up your tax refund during the pandemic, click here.

Source: Internal Revenue Service

31 Dec

Second round of Economic Impact Payments on the way

The Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department have begun delivering a second round of Coronavirus relief Economic Impact Payments or stimulus checks. If you’re wondering when or if you’ll receive a payment, Navigator Credit Union has some helpful information.

When will I get my money?
Individuals who have their direct payment information on file with the IRS will see the payments first. The IRS and Treasury announced that stimulus payments started going out via direct deposit Dec. 29. The department says some may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments before the official payment date of Jan. 4, 2021.

Paper checks were scheduled to begin being mailed Dec. 30. The IRS says paper checks or debit cards could be arriving in mailboxes as early as the first week of 2021.

The IRS is reminding taxpayers there is no action required by eligible individuals to receive this second relief payment.

You can check payment status and confirm payment type by visiting the IRS website and click Get My Payment.

How much money will I get?
The full amount of the stimulus payments and applicable income levels have yet to be defined. However, the recovery bill that President Trump signed currently includes direct payments up to $600 to eligible adults, plus $600 per dependent child.

Visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus for the latest information about the Economic Impact Payments, including answers to questions about eligibility and what to expect on payment timing and amounts.

Avoiding Coronavirus stimulus payment scams
Scammers are using stimulus payments to try to rip people off. They might try to get you to pay a fee in order to receive your stimulus payment. Or they might try to convince you to give them your Social Security number, bank account or government benefits debit card account number.

Here are four tips for avoiding a stimulus payment scam:

Only use irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS – and never in response to a call, text or email.

The IRS won’t contact you by phone, email, text message or social media with information about your stimulus payment or to ask you for your Social Security number, bank account or government benefits debit card account number. Anyone who does is a scammer phishing for your information in order to commit fraud.

You don’t have to pay to get your stimulus money.

The IRS won’t tell you to deposit your stimulus check then send them money back because they paid you more than they owed you. That’s a fake check scam.

Navigator Credit Union’s Member Promise includes working in your best interest, helping you achieve financial success and protecting your privacy. We want to help make sure the Coronavirus relief payments benefit our Members and not scammers. If you remember these four things, you’ll cut scammers’ success rates. And, when you spot a scam, tell the FTC: ftc.gov/complaint. Together, we can help put a stop to these scams.

20 Apr

Common Fraud Schemes Related to COVID-19

Navigator Credit Union wants you to be safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes helping to keep you safe from fraudsters. We want to make you aware of some of the common fraud schemes now being reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Government Impersonators
According to the FBI, one of the most prevalent schemes is government impersonators. Criminals are reaching out to people through social media, emails or phone calls pretending to be representing government agencies. In some cases, they’re even going door-to-door to try to convince people to give them money for COVID-19 testing, financial relief or medical equipment. It’s important to know the government will not reach out to you in these ways. If someone reaches out to you directly and says they’re from the government helping you with virus-related issues, it’s likely a scam.

Fraudulent Cures or Medical Equipment
The FBI says it’s most concerned about fake cures or treatments for the virus. These cures can be dangerous to your health and could even be fatal. You should never accept a medical treatment or virus test from anyone other than your doctor, pharmacist or local health department.

Work-from-Home Fraud
People who are at home and out of work are vulnerable to work-from-home scams. If someone you don’t know contacts you and wants you to urgently pay them in return for a job, there’s a good chance it is a scam. Legitimate employers will not ask you to pay them in order to get work.

Investment Fraud

One of the most lucrative schemes being encountered by the agency involves criminals offering you an opportunity to invest in a cure or treatment for the virus. The purpose of these get-rich quick schemes is simply to defraud the investor. Any offer like this should be treated with extreme skepticism.

Ways to protect yourself
Use the utmost caution in online communication. When it comes to emails, always verify who the sender is – and look closely; criminals will sometimes change just one letter in an email address to make it look like it comes from someone you know. Be very wary of attachments or links; hover your mouse over a link before clicking to see where it’s sending you.

In general, the wisest and safest approach is to be suspicious of anyone offering you something that’s “too good to be true” or is a secret investment opportunity or medical advice. Seek out legitimate sources of information on your own without relying on the claims which come from unfamiliar sources.

16 Apr

Think twice before taking social media quizzes

While they’re practicing social distancing as part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, many people are turning to social media to stay connected and pass the time. Navigator Credit Union wants to warn of an old trick identity thieves are deploying to get your information.

Navigator, along with the Better Business Bureau, warns you to think twice before taking part in social media challenges and quizzes. These are those posts which ask, “What was your favorite teacher’s name? Who was your first grade teacher? Who was your childhood best friend? What was your first car?” and similar questions.

If these questions sound familiar, they should! These are the many of the same questions you are asked as security questions when setting up bank and credit card accounts. When you answer these questions and post your responses online, you may not realize you are also giving the answers needed to get past the security questions set up to protect your private information and money.

Although many of these posts are simply meant for fun, hackers are also setting up these “get to know you” posts as a way to steal your information. They then can steal your online identity, build a profile of you and use the information you inadvertenly handed them in order to hack your accounts or open lines of credit in your name.

Here are some tips to avoid social media scams:

  • Be skeptical: Before you take a quiz, see if you can figure out who created it. Is it a brand you trust? Just because something appears to be fun and innocent, doesn’t mean there isn’t an inherent risk.
  • Adjust privacy settings: Review your social media account’s privacy settings and be strict about what information you share - and be mindful of who you are sharing it with.
  • Remove personal details from your profile: Don’t share information like your phone number or home address on social media accounts.
  • Don’t share friends’ information: Many quizzes, games and apps ask for access to your friends list and information. Do not grant permissions without asking your friends first! While you are choosing to give access to your information, they aren’t – and you could be putting them at risk, too.
  • Monitor Friend Requests. Don't accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Also be wary of a second friend request from someone you are already connected with; the second profile may be an imposter trying to access your data and your Friends list.

Of course, not all of the quizzes, posts and games are scams. However it is best to remain vigilant and refrain for such activities as there is no way to tell which ones may have been created by scammers. When it comes to this seemingly innocent “fun,” it is truly better to be safe than sorry.

03 Apr

IRS warns of economic impact payment scams

Navigator Credit Union is committed to helping you protect your privacy. As the COVID-19 pandemic takes a toll on people’s pocketbooks, your finances could face other threats as well.

Experts are warning of a rise in scams. You’re advised to be on the lookout for an increase in calls and email phishing attempts. That’s not all. Tech savvy fraudsters may also use text messages, websites and social media to request money or get your personal information.

The Internal Revenue Service says scammers may:

  • Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
  • Ask you to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
  • Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying the information is needed to receive or speed up your economic impact payment.
  • Suggest they can work on your behalf to get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster. This scam may be conducted by social media but it could even be done in person.
  • Mail you a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, and then tell you to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

Navigator wants to remind Members it is extremely important you do not provide personal or financial information, including social security number or bank account information, to an unknown source. If you think you’ve been contacted by a scammer, you’re encouraged to report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

31 Mar

Long-established retirement account rules change

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act is now law. With it, comes some of the biggest changes to retirement savings law in recent years. While the new rules don’t appear to amount to a massive upheaval, the SECURE Act will require a change in strategy for many Americans. For others, it may reveal new opportunities.

Limits on Stretch IRAs.

The legislation “modifies” the required minimum distribution rules in regard to defined contribution plans and Individual Retirement Account (IRA) balances upon the death of the account owner. Under the new rules, distributions to non-spouse beneficiaries are generally required to be distributed by the end of the 10th calendar year following the year of the account owner’s death.1

It’s important to highlight that the new rule does not require the non-spouse beneficiary to take withdrawals during the 10-year period. But all the money must be withdrawn by the end of the 10th calendar year following the inheritance.

A surviving spouse of the IRA owner, disabled or chronically ill individuals, individuals who are not more than 10 years younger than the IRA owner and child of the IRA owner who has not reached the age of majority may have other minimum distribution requirements.

Let’s say that a person has a hypothetical $1 million IRA. Under the new law, your non-spouse beneficiary may want to consider taking at least $100,000 a year for 10 years regardless of their age. For example, say you are leaving your IRA to a 50-year-old child. They must take all the money from the IRA by the time they reach age 61. Prior to the rule change, a 50-year-old child could “stretch” the money over their expected lifetime, or roughly 30 more years.

IRA Contributions and Distributions.

Another major change is the removal of the age limit for traditional IRA contributions. Before the SECURE Act, you were required to stop making contributions at age 70½. Now, you can continue to make contributions as long as you meet the earned-income requirement.2

Also, as part of the Act, you are mandated to begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from a traditional IRA at age 72, an increase from the prior 70½. Allowing money to remain in a tax-deferred account for an additional 18 months (before needing to take an RMD) may alter some previous projections of your retirement income.2

The SECURE Act’s rule change for RMDs only affects Americans turning 70½ in 2020. For these taxpayers, RMDs will become mandatory at age 72. If you meet this criterion, your first RMD won’t be necessary until April 1 of the year after you reach 72.2

Multiple Employer Retirement Plans for Small Business.

In terms of wide-ranging potential, the SECURE Act may offer its biggest change in the realm of multi-employer retirement plans. Previously, multiple employer plans were only open to employers within the same field or sharing some other “common characteristics.” Now, small businesses have the opportunity to buy into larger plans alongside other small businesses, without the prior limitations. This opens small businesses to a much wider field of options.1

Another big change for small business employer plans comes for part-time employees. Before the SECURE Act, these retirement plans were not offered to employees who worked fewer than 1,000 hours in a year. Now, the door is open for employees who have either worked 1,000 hours in the space of one full year or to those who have worked at least 500 hours per year for three consecutive years.2

While the SECURE Act represents some of the most significant changes we have seen to the laws governing financial saving for retirement, it’s important to remember that these changes have been anticipated for a while now. If you have questions or concerns, reach out to your trusted financial professional.

Jeff Hamm may be reached at 228-474-3427.

Learn more about NCU Wealth Management.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution to make securities available to members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. 

Citations.

  1. waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/democrats.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/documents/SECURE%20Act%20section%20by%20section.pdf [12/25/19]
  2. marketwatch.com/story/with-president-trumps-signature-the-secure-act-is-passed-here-are-the-most-important-things-to-know-2019-12-21 [12/25/19]
08 Jul

Getting your vehicle road trip ready

Summer is here, and many people are looking forward to getting away. Wherever you are headed, Navigator Credit Union wants to help you get there safely.

A routine vehicle inspection is one step that can save a lot of unwanted stress down the road. The Mississippi Department of Transportation has some advice on what you can do to make sure your vehicle is vacation ready.

  • Check tires for tread wear and proper pressure
  • Check your battery
  • Make sure belts and hoses are in good shape
  • Replace your windshield wiper blades
  • Check all brake and head lights
  • Make sure your air conditioning is ready for the heat

Fluid levels, such as oil, brake, transmission, windshield, coolant and power steering, should also be inspected before hitting the road.

When traveling, it’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit on hand. The kit includes basic repair tools, jumper cables, first aid supplies, a flashlight and duct tape. Also, do not forget a spare car key, kept in a safe space.

These quick and easy steps can help you relax even more knowing your car has been prepped for this year’s road trip.

20 Jun

Traditional vs. Roth IRAs

IRAs can be an important tool in your retirement savings belt, and whichever you choose to open could have a significant impact on how those accounts might grow.

IRAs, or Individual Retirement Accounts, are investment vehicles used to help save money for retirement. There are two different types of IRAs: traditional and Roth. Traditional IRAs, created in 1974, are owned by roughly 35.1 million U.S. households. And Roth IRAs, created as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act in 1997, are owned by nearly 24.9 million households.1

Both kinds of IRAs share many similarities, and yet, each is quite different. Let’s take a closer look.

Traditional IRA rules
Up to certain limits, traditional IRAs allow individuals to make tax-deductible contributions into the retirement account. Distributions from traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. For individuals covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction for a traditional IRA in 2019 has been phased out for incomes between $103,000 and $123,000 for married couples filing jointly and between $64,000 and $74,000 for single filers.2,3

Roth IRA rules
Also, within certain limits, individuals can make contributions to a Roth IRA with after-tax dollars. To qualify for a tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Like a traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA are limited based on income. For 2019, contributions to a Roth IRA are phased out between $193,000 and $203,000 for married couples filing jointly and between $122,000 and $137,000 for single filers.2,3

Contribution limits
In addition to contribution and distribution rules, there are limits on how much can be contributed to either IRA. In fact, these limits apply to any combination of IRAs; that is, workers cannot put more than $6,000 per year into their Roth and traditional IRAs combined. So, if a worker contributed $3,500 in a given year into a traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA would be limited to $2,500 in that same year.4

Individuals who reach age 50 or older by the end of the tax year can qualify for annual “catch-up” contributions of up to $1,000. So, for these IRA owners, the 2019 IRA contribution limit is $7,000.4

Start planning
If you meet the income requirements, both traditional and Roth IRAs can play a part in your retirement plans. And once you’ve figured out which will work better for you, only one task remains: opening an account.

Provided by Jeff Hamm
Vice-President, Wealth Management
Jeff may be reached at 228-474-3427.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution to make securities available to members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. 

Citations.
1 – https://www.ici.org/pdf/per23-10.pdf [12/17]
2 – https://www.marketwatch.com/story/gearing-up-for-retirement-make-sure-you-understand-your-tax-obligations-2018-06-14 [6/14/18]
3 – https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/new-401-k-and-ira-limits [11/12/18]
4 – https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-ira-contribution-limits [11/2/18]

06 Jun

Navigator celebrates 80th Anniversary

Ingalls Employee Credit Union

Navigator Credit Union is celebrating eight decades of serving the Gulf Coast, and this month the celebration centers around a special day in June. It was June 24, 1939, when seven shipyard workers met and planned to form a credit union to offer co-workers opportunities for saving and for loans. Today, Navigator is Mississippi’s largest state-chartered credit union.

The Mutual Benefit Credit Union was the name chosen by the Ingalls Shipbuilding employees who were the founders and first members. The name was soon changed to Ingalls Employees Credit Union, and decades of growth and expansion of services followed. In 2003, the name Navigator Credit Union was chosen by its members to reflect the broader membership base their Credit Union had grown to serve.

Today, the full-service financial institution has 8 full-service Branches in Mississippi and 5 full-service Branches in Alabama. The Credit Union offers innovative financial services such as Save’N Up Debit Card Savings Program and Credit Builder Loans, as well as interest-bearing checking accounts, high yield savings plans, unlimited rewards credit cards, mortgage services, competitive vehicle loans, retirement planning and more.

A painting commissioned to commemorate Navigator’s 80 years, as “your family’s financial navigator” was unveiled at Navigator’s 80th Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in March and is being featured in anniversary festivities throughout the year. The painting, by a Jackson County (MS) artist, illustrates the unique communities the Credit Union serves. Daphne’s mossy oaks and piers; Mobile’s Middle Bay Lighthouse and historic homes; Pascagoula’s Round Island Lighthouse, bayou fishing camps, pine savannas and forests of Gautier, Hurley and Vancleave; Ocean Springs’ downtown marquee and the Port of Gulfport’s anchor are depicted. The state flowers of Mississippi and Alabama, the magnolia and camellia, are featured, and the Credit Union’s founding sponsor Ingalls Shipbuilding is at its center.

Please join Navigator Monday, June 24, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at any Branch for a special “Birthday Party” celebration. Members will enjoy light refreshments and commemorative party favors while supplies last. You can find the Branch closest to you by clicking here.

A lot has changed since that muggy day along the east bank of the Pascagoula River, yet the belief “People Mean More than Money” is still fundamental to today’s Navigator Credit Union. Navigator continues to be a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution working in the best interest of its Members.

23 Apr

Navigator celebrates National Credit Union Youth Month!

The Future is Yours: Picture it! Save for it! Share it!Dreaming of our ideal future delights and inspires us. Children, with their fertile imaginations, are particularly good at dreaming. But to make dreams come true, you need to have clear goals and, very likely, save some money to make them happen. Navigator Credit Union is committed to helping our Members – young and old – achieve financial success.

April is National Credit Union Youth Month. This year’s theme is ‘The Future is Yours: Picture it! Save for it! Share it!” We’re encouraging all Members, particularly the youngest, to wright down their dreams, create vision boards, and encourage each other. These activities will help lay the groundwork for future success.

Putting your dreams and goals down on paper where you can see them every day actually helps you achieve them! Results of a study by Dominican University reveals that writing down your goals on a regular basis makes you 42% more likely to achieve them than if you don’t record them. They determined that using your imagination (right/creative brain) and writing those plans down (left/logical brain) engages your whole brain, including your subconscious. This makes it easier for you to find and seize opportunities that will help you achieve your goals, as well as keep you motivated.

Young members who being a habit of envisioning and recording their goals are more likely to achieve future goals as adults. This year’s Youth Month them will give Members the encouragement they need to start this habit.

Here are some ideas to celebrate Youth Month.

  • Write down your goals and create a vision board. Take a photo and share it on social media sites using the hashtag #CUYouthMonth. Sharing your goal will help inspire others to set goals too.
  • Some goals, like graduation from college or starting a business, will require money. Help your child set up a savings account. Navigator offers savings accounts for youth 17 and under including the Navvi-Gator Super Savers’ Club. This special kids’ savings account for children 12 years old and under gives Members an entry to win a Prize-of-the-Quarter with each deposit of $5 or more.

As your Credit Union, we want to help you teach your children to learn good financial habits. Together we can help them fulfill their dreams both big and small.