Is it time to open a credit union account for your children?

How financially savvy are your kids?

Only about five percent of adults received any kind of financial education in school. This is a very sobering statistic and may even somewhat explain why consumers’ credit card and student loan debt is so high.

If you want to equip your kids with the tools to be financially secure adults, a good place to start is with a savings and/or checking account at a credit union. Once they see money going in and coming out, it can drive home a lesson about money management.

Wondering if they can handle the responsibility? Read on…

Savings accounts

Most kids can typically grasp the concept of a savings account early in their development. Here’s how to know if your children are ready to use one:

They’re curious about money
If your child expresses a genuine interest in coins, shopping, or anything related to money, this can be a good segue into a savings lesson: financial institutions allow you to put money aside until you really need it.

Their piggy bank is overflowing
If your kids have a lot of change in their piggy bank or saved elsewhere, watch out. It may disappear before your eyes! Make this an opportunity to teach them that if they save some of their money in an account, it can earn interest over time.

They have a savings goal
If your children are saving up for something big, this is the perfect time to introduce a savings account. They can make a deposit into the account so that they will not be tempted to spend all of their cash.

Checking accounts

Checking accounts tend to be suited better to older kids who have had more exposure to money. Here are some signs that your kids could benefit from a checking account:

They’re responsible
No matter how responsible you are, it can be tempting to withdraw more cash than you should. You might wait to open an account with your children until they demonstrate responsibility in other areas such as getting a drivers license or maintaining a part-time job.

Their school doesn’t teach personal finance
Most schools fail to teach basic concepts of personal finance, which means that it is up to you as a parent. A checking account can be a great way to reinforce lessons about not spending more than you have, using a debit card, and more.

All their cash is stuffed into their wallet
The wallet-as-checking-account is dangerous for several reasons. Not only can cash easily get lost, it’s hard to track your purchases. By contrast, an account statement lets you view all of your spending and withdrawal activity, which can be a handy budgeting tool.

If you’re eager to introduce your children to the world of personal finance, a credit union account is a good place to start. Just watch for the signs, and start when your kids are ready. You can learn more and even earn prizes during this month’s Credit Union Youth Month celebration at Wauna Credit Union.

Covid Relief Bill Details

Today, Congress passed H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan of 2021, which was then signed into law by President Biden. The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill includes direct payments of up to $1,400 for individuals, billions to help schools and colleges re-open, and funding for vaccine distribution.

The below guidance based on the most current review of the bill, but please consult your accountant before making any financial decisions.

Who is eligible for the third round of payments?

U.S. citizens and resident aliens who are not eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s income tax return are eligible for the third payment. Eligible individuals will automatically receive an EIP of up to $1,400 for individuals, or $2,800 for married couples, and up to $1,400 for each qualifying child. Generally, recipients with adjusted gross income for 2019 (2020 if they have filed their 2020 tax returns already) up to $75,000 for individuals, and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses, they will receive the full amount of the third payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced.

What will people need to do in order to receive the rebate?

Payments are automatic for eligible taxpayers who filed a 2019 (or 2020) tax return; those who receive Social Security retirement, survivor, or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI); and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return. Payments are also automatic for anyone who successfully registered for the first payment online at IRS.gov using the agency’s Non-Filers tool, or anyone who submitted a simplified tax return that has been processed by the IRS.

Will the IRS notify recipients after the rebates are sent?

In previous rounds, people received an IRS notice, or letter, after they received a payment with the amount of their payment. Recipients should keep this for their tax records.

Are there payments for parents?

The bill provides additional help to parents of dependent children in the form of tax credits. Income has a significant impact on the credits. NBC News has a good overview.

When will they be sent?

According to the White House press secretary, the IRS and Treasury are working hard to get the payments out as soon as possible. The direct deposits could potentially begin being sent to accounts as soon as this weekend. The direct deposits will then be followed by checks, and finally prepaid cards.

Are the third round of payments taxable?

The EIPs will not be counted as taxable income for recipients. The rebates are a credit against tax liability, and are refundable for taxpayers with no liability to offset.

Are the payments subject to garnishments?

H.R. 1319 did not provide the same clear exemption from garnishments that the previous two rounds did. There may be state laws that prohibit garnishment of these funds.

Are the third round of EIPs subject to reclamation?

The payments have the status of a tax rebate and should not be subject to reclamation.

To view the American Rescue Plan of 2021 online at congress.gov.

2021 Annual Meeting

Important Note about our 2021 Annual Meeting

Following the CDC’s guidance on COVID-19, our annual meeting will be fully virtual this year. Please visit this page on March 16 for information on how to attend the meeting.

What is an Annual Meeting?

Each year, Wauna Credit Union, and all Credit Unions for that matter, hold an Annual Meeting to share with our member-owners the financial status and growth of our Credit Union during the prior year.  The results of our Board Of Director elections are also announced at the event.

An Annual Report is produced each year for the Annual meeting, it offers reports from key figures at Wauna Credit Union, as well as our financials presented in a statement and graphs.

2021 Annual Meeting

When: Our 54th Annual Meeting (you’re invited!) will be held on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 6pm.
Where: Virtual
Questions: Contact the Board Governance Committee at gcomm@waunafcu.org

Six Factors That Could Hurt Your Credit Score

Our partner BALANCE is ready to help you build a better financial future with free, trusted guidance and resources for all of life’s milestones. Go to balancepro.org for more information on how they can help you realize your financial dreams.

It’s no secret that maintaining a good credit score is essential to strong financial health. It is a must if you ever wish to take out a substantial loan or need to apply for rental properties. Most people know the basics of what may hurt and what may help your credit score. For example, paying your bills on time will help your credit score, while filing for bankruptcy will hurt it. However, you may not know about a few surprising things that can hurt your score.

Here are six factors that may negatively impact your credit score:

Having unpaid municipal debts

Municipal debts, such as parking tickets and library fines, are often minor, which is why some people often forget to pay them. Unfortunately, your city government may notify the credit bureaus about these unpaid municipal debts no matter how minor they are if they go unpaid for too long. Once they do this, these debts could potentially lower your credit score.

Not having any current loans

You would think that not having any loans would be a good thing, especially if you recently paid off any loans that you did have. It means that you’re practically free of debt, after all. However, credit scoring systems reward people who have different types of accounts. This is because the debt you have doesn’t always hurt your credit. If you make regular payments on time and in full on a loan, it will help your credit. It’s not uncommon for someone paying down a loan and a credit card to have better credit than someone who is only paying down a credit card.

Not using your credit cards

People will often pay with cash whenever possible instead of using their credit cards to avoid running up their credit card debt and the high-interest rates that go along with it. However, only using cash to make purchases could end up hurting your credit instead of helping it. Credit card companies will stop reporting to credit bureaus after six months of inactivity on your card. They might also cancel your account, which would lower the amount of credit you have overall, thereby hurting your credit score. To avoid this, make minor purchases on your card monthly, and be sure to pay off your balance each month as well. Plus, you can be taking advantage of any cashback or other rewards that can save you money!

Closing your credit card accounts

If you’ve been struggling with credit card debt and have finally managed to pay off one of your cards, then you may be tempted to close it. That’s a bad idea. Closing a card will remove that line of credit from your total credit, which will increase your credit utilization. For example, if you have two credit cards, one with a balance of $1,000 out of a $2,000 limit and one completely paid off with a $2,000 credit limit. With those two cards, you have a credit utilization ratio of 25 percent ($1,000 out of $4,000). If you close the card that you paid off, you lose that credit, which means now you are using $1,000 out of a total of $2,000 in available credit, leaving you with a credit utilization ratio of 50 percent. You’re much better off leaving the account open and making small purchases paid off each month, as suggested above.

Doing anything that requires a credit inquiry

Any time a business looks into your credit history, it will generate a hard inquiry on your credit report, which will affect your credit score. While one or two inquiries overtime shouldn’t affect it by much, you must be aware of what kind of actions generate a hard inquiry. These actions include requesting a credit limit increase, applying for a loan, applying for a credit card, signing up for a cell phone plan, applying for an insurance policy, and more.

Not regularly checking your credit report

If you don’t regularly pull your credit report, you won’t know what is on there. Maybe you have some of those small municipal debts that you can quickly pay off. There could also be inaccurate or duplicate accounts that you need to have removed. If you don’t check, you won’t know what you need to do to raise your credit score. Most banks and credit reporting companies will provide you with a free credit report once per year.

Odds are you try to be diligent about maintaining good credit. Unfortunately, not everybody knows about all of the different factors that could affect your credit score. These are six surprising factors that could ding your credit if you’re not careful. Be sure to take advantage of options for receiving your credit report for free once a year, and stay on top of any adjustments you need to make to keep your credit healthy.

Did You Get a 1099-G?

A sad truth is, those who are looking to take advantage of people, or scam the system, will use all tools at their disposal, regardless of how much it hurts others. One of the ways people have been cheating the system since the pandemic started is unemployment fraud. For those who don’t remember our blog post from last May, unemployment fraud is when a scammer uses somebody else’s identity and falsely claims unemployment insurance. In many ways it’s the perfect crime. The government will usually make the first couple of payments before the claim is disputed, and the victim happily has their job, and doesn’t even know somebody has claimed to be them until it’s too late.

How late is too late? For many it’s when they receive a 1099-G and file their taxes. Unemployment income is income, and the IRS expects its cut. So what to do if there’s a 1099-G in your name when there shouldn’t be? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued guidance for taxpayers who receive Forms 1099-G for unemployment benefits they did not actually get because of identity theft.

Taxpayers who receive an incorrect Form 1099-G for unemployment benefits they did not receive should contact the issuing state agency to request a revised Form 1099-G showing they did not receive these benefits. Taxpayers who are unable to obtain a timely, corrected form from states should still file an accurate tax return, reporting only the income they received. A corrected Form 1099-G showing zero unemployment benefits in cases of identity theft will help taxpayers avoid being hit with an unexpected federal tax bill for unreported income.  

The IRS previously issued guidance requested by states on identity theft guidance regarding unemployment compensation reporting. No Forms 1099-G should be issued to those individuals the states have identified as ID theft victims.

Why Cars From Canada Aren’t Worth the Risk

Our friendly neighbors to the north are many things, great hockey players, phenomenal makers of maple syrup, and a significant contributor to the world’s overall comedy output. One thing you should never count on Canada for though is used cars. That’s surprising to many people. After all, they’re the same cars sold stateside. What would cause Canadian cars to be such a bad investment?

As with many things, the answer boils down to multiple factors. In this case, there are three main drivers (pun intended) that lead us to recommend skipping that great deal from Canada.

Salty History

This one isn’t that surprising. It snows a lot in most of Canada, and like the Midwest, the salted roads can lead to a lot of corrosion and rust over time. This isn’t a deal breaker of course, just something to be on the lookout for. Remember, to really look at the bottom of any car or truck you buy. It’s worth it to bring it to a non-affiliated garage with a lift and plenty of light to make sure you don’t buy something with a well-hidden major problem

Carfox You Say

Many people are surprised to learn that Carfax is not as accurate on Canadian vehicles. It varies, but an (older) study found that while information from cars originating in some provinces had accurate information, but missed huge repairs from cars originating in others. Unless you have the capacity to do your own repairs, it’s not worth it to most people to take a risk on buying a vehicle that needs thousands of dollars in repairs just to save a bit of money up front.

I Don’t Recall

While the cars and trucks for sale in Canada are largely the same, there are differences. Sometimes that means you can get a trim or color not available stateside, but other times it means a part that is recalled isn’t available. There are also slight variations in the way some car companies handle recalls in different countries, which can potentially put you in an unsafe situation.

This of course doesn’t mean you should never buy a Canadian car, but it’s important to know the risks going in to it.

Talking Points for Members when Filing Taxes

Tax season is upon us and as we know, it is not uncommon to be anxiously awaiting a tax refund, especially during potential economic turmoil. If your life changed quite a bit in 2020 — you got married, bought a house, had a baby, retired, sold a home — and you’re unsure of how that affects your tax situation, you may want to consult with a tax professional for advice.

Below are important tips to consider when filing 2020 taxes

  1. Direct deposit is a convenient and safe option to receive a tax refund quickly, rather than waiting for a check to be mailed. However, if a you choose direct deposit, providing the IRS with the correct account information is important.
  2. Always double-check the WCU routing number and your account number before filing your return. If you provide only the account holder name on your tax return, your refund will not be deposited into your account.
  3. Members should never authorize the deposit of a tax refund into an account on which they are not listed as an owner.
    1. You cannot be given access to funds in an account that is not in your name, which can lead to delays and/or loss of funds if the owner of the account will not reimburse you, or the funds are no longer available. This includes any tax preparer used.
  4. If you receive someone else’s tax refund in error, please contact us immediately and follow these IRS instructions.
  5. In an effort to combat fraud and identity theft, the IRS limits the number of direct deposits into a single financial account or prepaid debit card to three refunds per year. Taxpayers who exceed this limit will receive a notice and a refund check instead, which may take up to 10 weeks.

Steps to Ensure Your Tax Refund Goes to YOUR Account

  1. Locate the refund section of your tax return.
  2. Enter the Wauna Credit Union Routing Number: 323274209
  3. Enter your Wauna Credit Union Account Number. There should be no dashes, symbols, or letters in your Account Number.
  4. Before filing your taxes, double check that you typed the Routing Number and Account Number correctly.
  5. Never direct your tax refund to someone else’s account.
  6. File your return on time — this year’s deadline is: April 15, 2021.
  7. To check the status of your refund, go to www.irs.gov/refunds and select “Where’s My Refund?” You can also check the IRS2Go mobile app or call 800.829.1040.

Lost or Stolen Checks

If a member believes their tax refund check has been lost or stolen, please click to visit the IRS “Where’s My Refund” tool or call 800.829.1954. The tool provides the status of the refund and, in some cases, instructions on how to resolve delivery problems. It will typically have information about the member’s tax refund 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of the member’s e-filed return, or three to four weeks after the member mails a paper return.

Members in Delinquency

In some cases, a portion or all of a member’s tax return will not be delivered to the member, but rather allocated toward a delinquent amount owed by the member for such things as state income tax, back child support, or delinquent non-tax federal debts, such as a student loan. The Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service (FMS), which disburses IRS refunds, will deduct the delinquent amount from the member’s refund before any monies are disbursed by check or direct deposit. In such cases, the FMS provides a letter to the member explaining any offset amount, the agency receiving the payment, the address and telephone number of the agency, and amount of refund offset. Member’s wishing to dispute the debt, will have to do so with the agency listed on the notice, not the IRS.

IRS Errors

The IRS maintains a customer service line that members may call to speak to a representative regarding tax return errors. If the IRS has made an error that resulted in the member receiving the incorrect amount returned or no return at all, the member should contact the IRS directly to resolve the issue (800.829.1040). WCU is not responsible for resolving any errors made by the IRS.

Member Errors

The IRS warns members to be very careful when entering their account and routing numbers when they choose direct deposit on their paper or electronic return. In most cases, an error will result in a delay of payment since the IRS issues a paper check instead of the direct deposit. But an error may result in the direct deposit going into an account belonging to someone else. The IRS will automatically issue a paper check if the account and routing numbers do not pass the IRS’ validation check, or if WCU rejects and returns the deposit to the IRS. However, if the member enters the incorrect account and/or routing numbers, and the deposit is accepted, the member will have to work directly with WCU to recover the funds.

The information here is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting advisors for further guidance.

What if my stimulus payment is delayed?

Millions of American are beginning to receive the $600 federal stimulus payment. However, many will have to wait and may even have to file their tax return to collect.

Americans struggle to receive missing stimulus checks
Stimulus Checks Delayed

By law, the IRS must issue all payments by Jan. 15. But beyond then, those entitled to a check, but have yet to receive one, may need to claim it as a credit on their 2020 returns.

The IRS recently began issuing a second round of stimulus payments to those eligible. Unfortunately, because of an IRS error, which has since been remedied, millions of payments were sent to the wrong accounts and some may not have received their stimulus payment.

As of today, January 8th, delayed stimulus payments are being deposited to accounts. We expect most payments to be available right away, but your financial institution could take a few business days to process. Stimulus checks will be deposited to the same account that you received your 2019 tax refund.
 
Wauna Credit Union understands how important these funds are for so many of our members. We are here for consultation or if you have questions about your accounts.
 
For more information about stimulus payments, please go here.

Warming Astoria

It’s impossible not to see the struggles of our community when visiting the Riverwalk or supporting the local stores and restaurants. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Astoria hard, and has placed countless obstacles for many just trying to get back on their feet.

The issues with houselessness are vast and complicated. Health and safety risks pose dangerous threats to Astoria’s homeless citizens and these risks worsen during winter, when living out of a car or on the street are lethal, as temperatures drop and winds pick up.

Check presentation
Members of our staff were happy to present a check to the Astoria Warming Center

A beacon of hope exists, however, in the Astoria Warming Center. A modest organization with a huge heart, the Center provides overnight shelter during winter months. Located at the First United Methodist Church, the Center exists solely to support people in need, which includes those experiencing homelessness. Like many beacons of home, the Center relies heavily on donations to keep their doors open. This year that, reliance has increased, as the Center moves toward paid employees.
This reliance was one of the many reasons Wauna Credit Union (WCU) employees voted to support the Astoria Warming Center as the 2020 official credit union charity.
“When we were choosing our annual charity, the Astoria Warming Center was an obvious choice,” said Kristen DeForrest, a member of the WCU Operations team, and a huge supporter of the Warming Center. “Many of our employees live in Astoria and see the good work they do every day.”

Kristen has long volunteered for the Center, and knows how important the role it has in helping the people of Astoria, “We see so many folks every day who just need a little help,” she said, “just giving a warm room to sleep when the temperature starts to dip is a huge benefit.”

Kristen was recently on hand to present a check for $11,299.09 to the Astoria Warming Center’s Board Member, Annie Martin, longtime Center Coordinator, Cheryl Paul, and Kathleen Sullivan, the Center’s new Executive Director. Just shy of $12,000, the donation was raised exclusively by WCU employees.

“Thank you so much for this incredibly generous donation! It means even more that your employees chose us! Please thank your employees for us. Wow! We’re quite choked up. Thank you, Wauna Credit Union,” said Sullivan. “We couldn’t continue without such kindness from the community!”

“The Astoria Warming Center depends on our community partners in order to serve those most in need, Annie Martin added. “We are grateful to the Astoria First United Methodist Church who allows us to use their first level for the center. We also are grateful for the local restaurants who are still donating meals despite the mandated closures due to COVID-19.”

Cheryl Paul, the Center Coordinator for a number of years, said she was proud that the Astoria Warming Center offers up to 28 beds on the nights they are open, as well as offering the public showers on Wednesday afternoons from noon to 4:00PM. “It has been so important to people with nowhere else to go, to have a safe, warm place to get out of the winter weather. Thank you, WCU employees!”

Annually, WUC chooses a new corporate charity to support through employee contributions and volunteer work. For 2021, the employees chose the Amani Center in St Helens www.amanicenter.org. The Amani Center (The Columbia County Child Abuse Assessment Center) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization created to assist our community in responding to child abuse.