USC Credit Union Blog

USC Credit Union Blog

8 Unexpected Homeowner Expenses

Posted by Sydney on Jul 17, 2019 12:02:09 PM

There’s a lot more to homeownership than paying the mortgage loan.

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Identity Theft: What’s in Your Wallet?

Posted by Sydney on Jun 27, 2019 2:05:00 PM
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5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

Posted by Brianna Seaberg on Feb 7, 2019 11:00:00 AM

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Welcome Home! 5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Your Home Instead of Renting It

Posted by Brianna Seaberg on Jan 24, 2019 2:00:00 PM

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New Year, More Money! 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Finances

Posted by Sydney on Dec 27, 2018 2:00:00 PM
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Taxes: The What, Who, and How

Posted by Katherine on Mar 22, 2018 12:42:00 PM

 

We know tax preparation isn’t fun, but, unfortunately, it’s necessary. Though it may seem like an inconvenience, filing your taxes correctly can sometimes give you a nice return. You may be reluctant to begin because of the confusion on where to start or what information is necessary. We are here, however, to simplify taxes for you so the task can seem less daunting.

What are income tax returns?

Income tax returns are documents that are used to evaluate whether you owe any taxes this year or if you are eligible for a tax refund. Taxes are calculated based on your total income minus any deductions you are eligible for.

Who has to file a federal income tax return?

As a student with their first job or someone who may not be too informed about what taxes are, you may be wondering if you even should file them.

If you fit one of these descriptions, then you will need to file a federal income tax return:

  • Gross income is over $10,000 as a single filer
  • Gross income is over $20,000 as a married joint filer
  • Earned over $400 from self-employment
  • Sold your home during the tax year
  • You owe taxes because of your retirement accounts (from distributions or excess contributions)
  • You owe Social Security and Medicare taxes on tips that were not reported to your employer or on wages that your employer did not withhold these taxes from

Even if you do not owe taxes, you may still be eligible for a refund.

Examples:

  • Earned Income Credit: This is a refundable credit designed for taxpayers who earn wages, yet fall into a low-income tax bracket. In many cases, people who qualify for this credit can receive a tax refund that is larger than the total amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks.
  • Child and Dependent Care Credit: If you paid to take care of a child (under the age of 13 and in your custody) or a spouse or adult dependent who is incapable of self-care, you may qualify for this tax credit, which can offset a percentage of the cost of their care.
  • Education Tax Credits: There are 2 main education tax credits for qualified expenses (such as tuition and enrollment fees) paid by certain taxpayers for themselves, their spouse, or a dependent.
  • Savers Credit: Some taxpayers may be eligible to claim a tax credit for a portion of the money they contributed to a qualifying retirement account.

Ways to file your return:

  • The old-fashioned way: You can always work with pen and paper to complete the forms. To figure out which form is the correct form to use, check out the official website.
  • Hire a professional: If you don’t have the time or confidence to file your taxes yourself, you could always hire a tax professional to assist you.
  • Receive Help: If you make $54,000 or less, have a disability, or have limited English speaking capabilities, you are eligible to take advantage of VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance). This program allows qualified households to receive tax return assistance by IRS-certified volunteers.
    • USC Vita is USC’s local chapter of this organization. Come to the USC Credit Union or the USC Community Computing Center during their operating hours to meet with a Vita member!
  • Financial Software: Take advantage of the digital age! Software like TurboTax and TaxAct can help simplify the process of filing taxes.

Check out our educational tool Financial Focu$ to see interactive and engaging modules on various financial topics including taxes!

 

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3 Ways to Up Your Financial Game This President's Day

Posted by Katherine on Feb 15, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Happy President’s Day! Now that there is a nice three day weekend, let’s talk about finance!

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Managing Your Financial Freedom Part 2

Posted by Katherine on Jan 24, 2018 1:18:00 PM
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Unlock Your Banking Potential

Posted by Katherine on Jan 17, 2018 3:02:41 PM

USC Credit Union has now partnered with EverFi, a leader in financial education, to bring you Financial Focu$, a set of courses to set you on the right track. Whether you are a freshman just starting to get your feet wet in a new ocean of responsibility, or a college graduate already in the workforce, Financial Focu$ will help you take control of your financial future.

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Why 2015 Is the Year to Switch to a Credit Union

Posted by Cal on Feb 19, 2015 9:21:12 AM

Credit unions have become more competitive with the nation's banks. They can open accounts for almost anyone, even businesses, write mortgage loans, and generally provide any basic banking service that for-profit banks can.

And over time, credit unions have become fiercely competitive. Their not-for-profit status allows them to operate without a goal of profitability. Their tax-free status means they don't have a huge expense that taxed, for-profit banks have to pass on to their customers. Without the need to generate a profit, or pay taxes, credit unions have a massive advantage on the banks -- an advantage that can benefit the customer.

 

Borrowers win at credit unions
Data compiled by SNL Financial and the National Credit Union Administration suggest that credit unions offer lending rates that are on par or better than the nation's banks. The average credit union prices its credit cards, car loans, and mortgages at rates lower than the average for-profit banking institution, in part due to the efficiency of a not-for-profit business model.

You'll notice car buyers are perhaps the biggest winner at credit unions, which price car loans at nearly half the rate of for-profit banks. This is nothing new. Going back several years in the data, I found credit unions have historically priced their car loans at a 1.5%-2% discount to loans from the average banking institution.

The difference is so substantial that individuals with an auto loan at a for-profit bank might want to consider refinancing their loan at a credit union. The savings can add up to thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Credit unions are more conservative in how they manage their assets and liabilities, and thus prefer the short amortization period of car loans. Whereas a 30-year mortgage carries the risk of rising interest rates over the life of the loan, a car loan can be easily matched with certificates of deposits, for instance. Credit unions will compete aggressively for car loans, but largely match the banks' rates on mortgages, which are longer-term loans by their nature, and less preferable to credit unions because of their longer duration.

 

How credit unions stack up for savers
Savers fare better at credit unions across the board. The average credit union offers CD, money market, and savings rates well above the national average for banking rates. The disparity is most dramatic for longer-term savings vehicles such as certificates of deposit, where credit unions pay nearly 50% more on five-year CDs than banks.

This is, again, partly due to conservatism in how credit unions structure their assets and liabilities. Credit unions want longer-term deposits to reduce their interest rate risk. Banks have more fee revenue than credit unions, which acts as a form of insulation from the swings in interest rates.

Speaking of fees, the chart above doesn't reflect the common bank service charges that you won't find at a credit union. Following a reduction in fees banks earn on debit cards, banks created account maintenance fees to offset their lucrative debit card revenue. The result is a monthly charge for accounts that do not maintain a minimum balance.

Credit unions, formed for the purpose of helping low- and middle-income Americans create savings, have largely avoided monthly account fees for their customers.

If, like many people, you made a financial New Year's resolution, you might just want to start by picking a new place to store your savings and borrow your money. The average credit union has a huge advantage on your average bank. This year is the perfect year to make the switch.

 

The $18 million fortune about to be ripped from your credit card
Bad news for your credit card company. The plastic in your wallet may soon be gone forever. And once it is, it could cost Capital One, American Express, Chase, and all the rest as much as $18 million a day! Good news for you. Because when you're finally able to say "goodbye" to the cards stuck in your wallet, a little-known tech company responsible for finally putting an end to plastic could hand its investors life-changing profits. A revealing investor alert from The Motley Fool has the full story. 

 

Don't wait any longer! Get started with the USC Credit Union today!

 

Source: Wathen, Jordan. "Why 2015 Is the Year to Switch to a Credit Union." N.p., 7 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

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