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Feb 26

2013

by Michelle

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Again this year, the IRS is making fraud and identity theft a top priority.  They’ve ramped up their efforts with additional staff assigned to identity theft related issues and are significantly increasing their capacity for investigations.  In 2012, their investigations were responsible for nearly 500 criminal indictments.  Even with all of these efforts and improvements, however, tax identity theft continues to be on the rise and, ultimately, the burden falls on you to protect yourself.

 

Typically, we see tax scammers commit fraud in two ways.  A tax scammer can steal your statements, W-2s and other personal financial information and beat you to filing your own return.  They request that your refund is sent to them, often in the form of a pre-paid debit card, which can be used just like cash.  Or, they can steal tax returns being sent by mail and use the extensive personal information included to commit identity theft and open credit in your name.

 

Here’s how to avoid becoming a victim:

 

Expect your tax forms. W-2s and tax forms must be sent by January 31st each year; however, they could arrive anytime in January.  If you don’t receive your forms, reach out to your financial institution to find out when they were mailed.  Many institutions offer an electronic tax form option, which may be safer than mail.  If you suspect fraud, call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, ext. 245.

 

Expect your tax refund. Typically, the IRS will issue your refund in less than 21 calendar days of receiving your return.  Knowing when to expect your refund is a good way to combat theft.    The IRS offers a “Where’s My Refund?” online tool and mobile app so that you can track your return.  Information is updated daily.

 

The IRS does NOT email or text. Don’t fall prey to fraudulent IRS emails or text scams.  Attachments and website links contained within IRS emails could contain viruses or fraudulent methods to collect your personal information.  If you receive an email from the IRS, forward it to phishing@irs.gov.  They will pursue the source, if possible.

 

Choose direct deposit. Avoid the risk of lost or stolen checks by opting for direct deposit.  Our Routing/ABA number is 121181743.  Here is more information about setting up direct deposit with us.  For more information or help with direct deposit, call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878.

 

Carefully choose your return method. Filing online is a safer option than by mail.  If you choose to file by mail, do not put your tax return in an unsecured mailbox, a community mail drop or an outgoing mail bin at work.  Instead, take the return to a post office.  For extra protection, you may opt for certified mail.

 

Beware of suspicious pop-ups. If you are filing taxes online, be aware of out-of-the-ordinary pop-ups asking for personal or financial information.  This could be an attempt to steal information for you.

 

For more information, www.IRS.gov Help and Resources is a great source.

 
by Michelle, AVP, Operations

Feb 20

2013

Your employer or the government agency that issues your payroll checks is responsible for establishing direct deposit on your behalf. Typically, you’ll complete a form providing relevant information from your financial institution and they’ll do the rest.

 

To initiate Direct Deposit to your Checking Account, you’ll need two things:

Routing/ABA number
The MICR number from one of your checks

 

To initiate Direct Deposit to your Savings Account, you’ll need three things:
Routing/ABA number
Your member account number
The suffix of the deposit account

 

 

1. Routing/ABA Number
The Routing/ABA number is comprised of the first number series at the bottom of your personal check, as indicated above. Our Routing/ABA number is 121181743.

 

2. Account Number
Your account number is the 5-7 digit number that you use to identify your account when you call a member service representative or login to BranchLine.

 

3. MICR Number
Your checking account MICR number (pronounced “micker”) is a cross-reference number that identifies your checking account to processors. The MICR is used for enhanced security so that your account number is not printed on your checks. The MICR is the second set of numbers following the four leading zeros. In the example above, the MICR is 0000076. You can omit the leading zeros when using this number.

 

4. Suffix
The suffix is a two-digit number following your account number. It is unique to each account type you have with us. You can find the suffix in BranchLine, on your statement, or by calling us.

 

If you don’t have personal checks, or you need additional help determining your direct deposit information, call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878. We answer the phone within 30 seconds and we’re always happy to help.

by Anne, Phone Center Manager

Aug 30

2012

If you’re considering buying a home, you’ve probably heard about tax breaks associated with home ownership.  But what does that mean to the bottom line?

 

Tax breaks may help you afford a home.  Under current IRS rules, you can deduct mortgage related items on your federal income tax return if you itemize deductions and meet other requirements.

 

Possible deductions include:
•    Interest paid on your primary residence
•    Property taxes
•    Points paid on a loan
•    Interest paid on a home equity loan

 

Tax deductions for homeowners can make home ownership more affordable by lessening your taxable income.  Here’s an example:

 

Let’s assume John wasn’t already itemizing deductions.  Now, he buys a home and finances $400,000.  John will pay nearly $18,000 in mortgage interest and approximately $4,000 in property taxes the first year.

 

At tax time, John can now itemize and deduct his home related expenses to lessen his taxable income.

 

Reducing his taxable income by $25,000 could save John thousands of dollars in taxes.

 

 

Please consult a tax advisor for complete details.  For more information about the tax benefits of homeownership, see IRS Publication 530, Tax Information for First-Time Homeowners and IRS Publication 936, Home Mortgage Interest Deduction.

 

Pacific Service CU cannot give financial, tax or legal advice.  Please consult your tax advisor for details.

 

by Hemlata, AVP, Lending

Mar 7

2012

If you’re getting a tax refund, we know you want it now. Luckily, the IRS offers direct deposit, so you can have your money sent electronically into your account. In fact, the IRS says 79 million taxpayers used direct deposit to receive their refund in 2011.

 

The IRS promotes direct deposit as the quickest, safest and most convenient way to receive a refund. Members tell us that they often have their state refund within five days and their federal refund within 10 days of filing. Now that’s fast!

 

Here’s how to make sure you get your money quickly and easily. When preparing your return, all you have to do is follow the instructions on your return or in your tax software and provide your account number and our routing number. Your personal checks have everything you need to get your tax refund routed directly into your Pacific Service CU checking account.

The Routing/ABA number makes up the first part of the number series at the bottom of your personal checks. Our Routing/ABA number is 121181743. Your account cross-reference number is the next series of numbers following the four leading zeros, in this example, 0000076. You can omit the leading zeros when you provide it to the IRS. The final four numbers are the check number, in this case, 0009, which you won’t need to supply. Your member number is not used for enhanced security when using checks.

 

To deposit your refund to a savings account, simply provide the Routing/ABA number listed above and your Credit Union member account number, plus a hyphen and the two-digit suffix of the savings account. Your general membership savings account is suffix -00, for example 999999-00. You can find suffix numbers for your other savings accounts on your statement, on BranchLine or by calling us.

 

You can even split your refund into as many as three checking or savings accounts – even at different institutions. Use IRS Form 8888 Allocation of Refund to make multiple deposits.

 

For you tech-savvy folks, IRS.gov offers a “Where’s My Refund?” tool and an IRS2Go phone app at the Apple App Store and the Android Marketplace. Your status is available about three days after receiving your e-filed return, or four weeks after mailing a paper return.

 

If you don’t have personal checks, or you need additional help determining your account number, call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878, ext. 6231. We answer the phone within 30 seconds and we’re happy to help.

 

Happy Tax Season!

 

by Michelle, AVP, Operations

Jan 10

2012

Jenna, Vice President, Operations

Investing in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a valuable way to supplement your retirement income. IRAs offer valuable tax benefits and don’t require a company-sponsored retirement plan. This is a great time of year to get started. For most people, the biggest problem in deciding whether to open an IRA is determining their eligibility. The rules can be confusing.

 

So, is a traditional or Roth IRA right for you? The essential decision is whether it is more beneficial to take advantage of tax-free withdrawals upon retirement or receive an upfront tax break instead.

Here are some differences to help you decide:

 

 

Traditional IRA – Federal tax benefit now

Contribute up to age 70 ½ if you earn income
Provides a tax deduction on contributions
Must meet eligibility requirements – visit the IRS website for details
Earnings grow tax-deferred with funds being taxed only when they are withdrawn. To remain penalty free, withdrawals may begin after age 59 ½. In most cases, your tax rate will be lower in retirement, making this tax-deferred type of IRA a sound choice for many people.
Distributions must start by age 70 ½

 

Roth IRA – Federal tax benefit later

Contribute as long as you earn income
No tax deduction on contributions
No eligibility requirement
Earnings grow tax-free and qualified post-retirement distributions are not taxed
Does not require distributions to begin by any particular age

 

For more information, call an IRA specialist at (888) 858-6878.

 

Pacific Service CU cannot give financial or tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor or www.irs.gov.

 
   
 
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