Unraveling Qualified Expenses for Coverdell ESAs

Guest post written by Alison Brink, copy writer for the Retirement Services division of Ascensus. Alison researches and writes about various IRA, ESA, and HSA topics for Ascensus’ online and printed publications and education materials.

With students back in school and those glaring tuition bills coming due, many of your Coverdell education savings account (ESA) members may be seeking distributions to help pay (or be reimbursed for) their education expenses. And because a designated beneficiary (the child for whom the ESA is established) does not pay taxes on ESA distributions if the assets are used for qualified education expenses incurred at an eligible education institution, members may have questions about whether their expenses are qualified. While the ESA’s designated beneficiary or responsible individual (often a parent or guardian) ultimately is responsible for determining if education expenses are qualified, they often turn to the ESA administrator with questions.

Eligible Education

ESA assets generally can be used for elementary and secondary education, as well as postsecondary education. Some taxpayers save for postsecondary education through qualified tuition programs, commonly referred to as “529 plans.” But 529 plan assets cannot be used for elementary or secondary education.

Eligible Education Institutions

Part of what makes qualified education expenses qualified is the fact that the expenses have to be incurred at an eligible education institution. An eligible elementary or secondary school for ESA purposes is any public, private, or religious school that provides elementary and secondary education (kindergarten through grade 12) as determined under state law. An eligible postsecondary school is any college, university, vocational school, or other postsecondary educational institution that is eligible to participate in student aid programs administered by the Department of Education. An eligible educational institution would include nearly all accredited public, nonprofit, and private postsecondary institutions.

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Tailoring Executive Benefits to the Executive and the Credit Union

By David Frankil, President, Burns-Fazzi, Brock and Associates

Some people are lucky enough to be able to walk into a store, pick a nice suit off the rack, maybe have the sleeves adjusted and the cuffs hemmed, and walk out with something that fits them perfectly.

My experience is more like major surgery, but when done right the suit looks great.

The same is true for executive benefits – some rare executives and their credit unions are fortunate enough to have a set of circumstances and needs that allow them to take something basic and off-the-shelf.  But more often they end up with their proverbial arms sticking out and socks visible with cuffs four inches off the floor.  What they really need is a more complex mix of solutions that are tailor-made for them.

Where we see credit union executives considering (or stuck in) ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions, it is usually because there is a misperception that credit union executives can only have one type of executive benefit.  In other words, they think they have to pick just one from a long list that includes 457(b), 457(f), Split-Dollar Plans, Invested Retirement Plans, and others.

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We’re Embedding Our Best Technology in Apple Pay… and Into All Digital Transactions

Originally posted on Cashless Pioneers blog

Guest post written by James Anderson, Group Head and SVP, Mobile and Emerging Payments, MasterCard

James Anderson_MC

MasterCard is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Credit, Debit, and Prepaid Branded Products.

In bringing Apple Pay to consumers, Apple wanted to deliver the highest quality transactions possible. So who did they turn to? Those who’ve built the scalable payment infrastructure that is the envy of others – MasterCard.

We believe that payments should always be a simple proposition to the consumer – but once you get under the hood, there’s a very sophisticated network in place that enables any of us to walk into a store and make a purchase – trusting that our cards will work as we expect them to. We realize that consumers don’t care about that – but what they do want to know is that their information and their money are secure.  Through the work that MasterCard did with Apple and with the active engagement of the first four issuers – we’ve delivered the most secure combination of technologies that we’ve ever deployed:

Phones_MC

Top Things to Know About Apple Pay and the Security of Our Digital Payments Platform:

1. Apple Pay Transactions Will Work Just Like Any Other MasterCard Transaction

Transactions that originate from Apple Pay will work the same as any other MasterCard transaction. The consumer will see the card they wish to use in their iPhone from the issuer that they are used to doing business with, the merchant sees a MasterCard transaction – either the familiar contactless form in store or Digital Secure Remote Payment for in-app. Apple is never in the transaction path.

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Aligning CU Executive Incentives With CU Goals and Member Needs

By David Frankil, President, Burns-Fazzi, Brock and Associates

Dr. Jack Clark from Clark Research Associates presented the results of the 2014 NAFCU-BFB Executive Compensation and Benefits Survey at this summer’s NAFCU Annual Conference.  There were many tidbits in the presentation, but one topic caught my eye – the wide variety of incentives that Boards have used to create bonus plans for top executives.

The topic of how incentives affect behavior is far from new – go back to freshman-year economics and Adam Smith –

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest.”

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Vol 1, March 9, 1776

Just as water finds its own level, economic activity naturally seeks its highest and most efficient use.  That’s not to say that the greater good is subverted to individual self-interest, rather that well-designed compensation models effectively align individual incentives with desired outcomes that benefit the credit union, its members and top executives.

On that we can probably all agree – but what are the metrics and desired outcomes that will create optimal goal alignment?  To use a baseball analogy, home runs are great – but rewarding players just based on home runs would result in tons of shortstops and second basemen batting .075 as they swung from the heels every time up at the plate.  You’d have a hard time finding anyone who wanted to pitch too.

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Developing the Next Leaders Within Your Credit Union

By Peter Myers, MSC, PCC, Vice President, DDJ Myers

If I told you that you could handpick a group of leaders who would be perfectly invested in your credit union, would you jump at the chance? Now what if I told you these potential leaders may be individuals who you already interact with every day? Of course, I’m talking about looking within your own organization and identifying emerging leaders from your staff, and then providing them the training to transform into leaders and thinkers who exceed expectations for both you and your members.

Who Is an Emerging Leader in Your Credit Union?

To identify emerging leaders within your ranks, I encourage you to cast a wide net and look beyond obvious candidates such as vice presidents and other upper management. Perhaps there’s a team leader, a department manager, or a teller supervisor who has shown leadership potential by delivering excellent member service or proactively helping on team projects. By paying close attention and identifying those employees who put your credit union values into action, you may be surprised at how many of your staff have the potential to exceed expectations and grow into leadership roles. Read more