Student Loans Have Arrived
BEFCU proudly announces the arrival of its Student Loan Program. Designed to meet the needs of students entering or attending a four year college or university, the Student Loan Program features a Line of Credit that is available during a student’s journey toward graduation. Once that objective is reached, the amount borrowed becomes a fixed rate loan term loan (i.e., equal monthly payments over a 10 or 20 year period).
This program is designed to help students and families over the hurdle when savings, scholarships, grants, and/or a Federal Student loan just is not enough. The program allows loan payments to be deferred while the student is in school. Payments begin after the student graduates (up to six years after the student enters a four year college or university program) or decides to leave school early.
BEFCU will be hosting a series of Student Loan workshops beginning in January to help students and parent navigate this important area. Topics covered include choosing majors, choosing schools, choosing careers, income expectations, school costs, graduation time, paying student debt, and much more. Watch for more information on BEFCU’s website: click on the “Loans and Credit Cards” tab on BEFCU front page and then on “Student Loans”.
Call BEFCU, at 877-837-8367, today for any of your Student Loan questions!
Message from the Corner Office—by Ed Casanova
As the year starts anew, are you ready for it? Certainly, last year brought some interesting changes, including a tax bill that revamped tax strategies and tax plans for many, a rise in interest rates that effectively chocked off housing sales, and a drop in oil prices bringing a year end gift to many.
So as we look forward to this final “teen” year of 21st century, what will it bring? Looking around, there is plenty of uncertainty, whether you look to Washington or the world. A new House of Representatives in the new year (will everyone be able to get along), an England that does not seem to be able to find itself or its identity, a European Union that is less a union and more a family that does not get along, a China that is candid, cautious, combative, and shrewd, an Administration that is “Tariffing” just about everything and everyone but “making nice” just in time, and, a galley of sports stars who are moving toward retirement: Kershaw, Sabathia, Hill, Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, and James (the question is when and at what skill level will these stars retire) .
Balancing this out, we have an economy that is robust, employment that is strong, inflation that remains in check, a FED that is taking the approach if it is not broken let’s leave it alone, enough income in consumer’s pockets to drive the economy for a while, falling oil prices—which help everyone, and an expansion that will set a record in 2019, and whole new group of young players in all sports bringing excitement and fun on big screens and mobile screens.
Notably, some view 2019 with trepidation, others see it as refreshing: “I have a job, I have income to spend, and there no major changes on the horizon I have to worry about!” As one member said recently, “Phew, we finally have something to really cheer about!”
While it has taken some time for the recovery (which started in June 2009) to feel “real” to many, not just a few, it has shown staying power, breath (most companies, regardless of industry, are recording better results), and depth (employment has finally reached those who have been sidelined for years). In addition, the FED has not upset the apple cart: it has moved slowly and methodically—allowing a weak economy to gain strength, which, in turn, has produced jobs, low unemployment, virtually no inflation (or inflation risk), and real wage growth.
On top of that, while deficits and tariffs may try to disrupt today’s tranquility, the country is has a presidential election coming up in 2020. None of the major players (or even minor ones) want to see a weak economy, job losses, inflation, or high oil prices. Thus, unless the theatre of the absurd takes place, look for preservation of the status quo in 2019—the only caveat is the international landscape: a place where nothing is certain or guaranteed. So, if you are happy day, that happiness should continue in 2019. If you worried today, 2019 could bring you some relief as it steadily moves through the year—no big waves, no big conflicts, and no big changes.
Balance Transfer and More Points
Just in time to pay off those Holiday bills. BEFCU is bringing you its’ very popular Balance Transfer and Rewards Points program. Beginning February 1, 2019 and continuing through March 10, 2019, you can transfer any credit card balance, up to your BEFCU credit card limit, to your low FIXED rate BEFCU VISA card. And, when you do that you will receive TRIPLE points for every dollar transferred.
Call BEFCU to get your transfer form or, better yet, go online to BEFCU’s web page and download the Balance Transfer form (go to “Loans and Credit Cards” tab and click on Credit Cards). Don’t miss out on this great opportunity—and don’t forget about the dates.
Tax Year 2018
The changes in the tax law that were passed in 2018 will be part of the tax filing you make this year. As you may recall the changes passed by Congress were made to both simplify the tax filing process and create a more level (fairer) playing field. While neither goal was (completely) reached, some progress was made in both areas.
The Credit Union has a full presentation of the changes made in 2018; we will post the presentation on the web site. Please click on the tab “Blog” for the presentation. For purposes of this newsletter, we will highlight some of the most important changes to the tax rules that apply to your 2018 tax return.
Tax Rate you will pay
For many, the tax rate you will be subject to is slightly less than 2017. This was accomplished by both lowering tax rates a little and raising the amount of earnings subject the tax rates schedule’s (see the Blog for the tax rate schedule).
The amount a taxpayer subtracts from their adjusted gross income if the taxpayer does not itemize deductions on Schedule A. For 2018, the Standard Deduction is:
· Married, filing jointly: $24,000—it was $13,000
· Single: $12,000—it was $6,500.
The deduction was eliminated.
State and Local Taxes
The deduction for these taxes was capped at $10,000 per taxpayer; the amount ($10,000) includes both real property taxes and state /local income taxes. Taxpayers most affected are those who live in (and file tax returns as residents of) New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Maryland, and Oregon.
One question frequently asked: can two spouses file separately for 2018 and claim two $10,000 deductions? Answer: married couples can file separate returns, but each spouse only gets a $5,000 deduction for state and local taxes.
Interest: first mortgage
Taxpayers can deduct interest paid on first mortgage loans for both a homeowner’s primary residence and second residence, often referred to as a vacation home , subject to the following:
For first mortgage loans that were secured by a primary and/or second home and the loans were acquired prior to December 14, 2017, taxpayers can deduct interest that they pay provided total debt on both the primary residence and second home does not exceed $1.0 million. Any interest paid on first mortgage debt in excess of the $1.0 million limit is not tax deductible (i.e., interest paid on first mortgage debt up to $1.0 is tax deductible but interest paid on the mortgage debt that exceeds $1.0 million is not tax deductible). See the Blog for restrictions on refinancing this debt.
A second home cannot be an investment property .
For first mortgage loans acquired after December 14, 2017: taxpayers can deduct interest on up to $750,000 of combined first mortgage debt incurred to buy or improve a first and/or second home after December 15, 2017. Any interest paid on debt over the $750,000 limitation is not deductible.
Home Equity Loans
Interest paid on home equity loans is not tax deductible regardless when the loan was taken out. See the Blog for an exception to this rule.
· Other Changes were made in the following areas: Charitable Donations
· Medical Expenses
· Casualty Losses
· Health Insurance
· Alimony Payments (received and paid)
· 401K accounts
· Estate and Gift Tax
· Child and Dependent Tax Credit.
See the Blog for more information.
Please file timely and if needed, see a Tax Professional to help you complete your tax return under the new rules.
Fast Facts (find your year)
1964: Beatles make their U.S. debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
1976: NASA's Viking 1 lands on Mars (July 20).
1984: Apple launches Macintosh computer.
1996: Ebay started the online auction and shopping website
1998: John Glenn becomes the oldest astronaut in space at age 77.
1999: Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 10,000 for the first time.
2000: Nationally, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.56.
2001: Apple unveils its first Ipod.
2011: Space Shuttle Endeavour makes its last mission to space
Breaches and Your Security
With all the news about cyber breaches, their size, the seemingly unstoppable number of them, the inability of retailers, hoteliers, food service companies, credit reporting agencies, etc. to protect private data, it is incumbent on you, the member (or for those not members, the consumer) to protect yourself and your information.
Stay alert, listen to the news regarding a breach, determine if your information was or could have compromised with a breach, act quickly if you think you information was compromised: contact the company, find out what they are doing, and if necessary, change your user name and password or, worst case, close your account and/or relationship with the vendor in question.
Breaches are serious and can cause major financial problems for those affected. Just because they seem to be happening regularly, do not take them for granted. Act timely if you are affected—or you could be spending years trying to fix the problem.
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