Individually Focused IRA Marketing

Originally posted on

Guest post written by Dennis Zuehlke, Compliance Manager, Ascensus

The April 15 tax filing and IRA contribution deadline is only one month away. Much of the marketing focus this year is on the higher IRA contribution limits. For 2013, the IRA contribution limit is $5,500, up from the previous $5,000 limit.

This is good news for baby boomers socking away money for retirement, but for young millennials just starting out, making a $5,500 IRA contribution may be out of reach, and such a marketing campaign may appear out of touch. Targeting the right message to the right audience is key. Remember, the “I” in IRA stands for individual. IRA marketing efforts focused on the individual—based on their generational demographic—will benefit both your members and your credit union.

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113th Congress Faces Contentious Issues

Originally posted on

Guest post by Dennis Zuehlke, Compliance Manager, Ascensus

With the photo-ops and swearing-in ceremonies over, and the presidential inauguration now a memory, the 113th Congress is hard at work facing a number of contentious, but familiar, issues, one of which is tax reform.

To avoid a U.S. default on its debt obligations, the House of Representatives approved an extension of the debt ceiling. The Senate passed the measure shortly thereafter and President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law. The legislation suspends the $16.4 trillion limit on government borrowing until May 18 to give Congress time to reach a broader deficit reduction deal.

Next on the agenda, Congress and the White House must reach an agreement on nearly $85 billion in targeted spending cuts to avoid the automatic across-the-board cuts that would kick in March 1 if a deal is not reached. Agreeing on $85 billion in spending cuts will not be easy and reaching that figure means that potentially everything—including retirement savings incentives—is on the table. As Congress looks for ways to reduce the deficit, tax incentives for retirement savings are especially susceptible because they cost the Treasury more than the deduction for home mortgage interest and are second only to the exclusion of employer healthcare contributions. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the exclusion of pension contributions and earnings in defined benefit and defined contribution plans will cost the Treasury $100 billion this year alone.

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Saved By the “Fiscal Cliff” Bell

Originally posted on

Guest post by Dennis Zuehlke, Compliance Manager, Ascensus

As most Americans were ringing in the New Year, the Senate was holding an early morning roll call vote on a bill to avoid hurtling off the “fiscal cliff” that would have resulted from the expiration of the Bush-era tax rates and spending cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The compromise bill, hammered out over the weekend by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Vice President Joe Biden, passed the Senate by a vote of 89-8. The House passed the measure by a vote of 257-167 later on New Year’s Day, pulling us back from the brink, and saving us from falling off the fiscal cliff.

President Obama then signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), making permanent the Bush-era tax rates (except for individuals with incomes above $400,000 and families above $450,000), postponing for two months the automatic across-the-board spending cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, and extending a host of other expiring individual and business tax provisions.

As one would expect, the bill contains something for everyone, including those who are saving through retirement and education savings plans. Credit unions offering IRAs and Coverdell education savings accounts (ESAs) will benefit from three provision of the bill.

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Happy holidays and…tax reporting for IRAs, HSAs and ESAs?

Guest post written by Paul Kern, Manager of Instruction at Ascensus

It’s that time of year again! And no, I’m not talking about the holidays and gift giving. In fact, the timing has more to do with a little bit of ‘bah humbug’ in the form of 2012 IRA, HSA, and Coverdell ESA Tax Reporting. = )

Nobody likes to be the Grinch, and a little preparation today will help make the process run smoothly and let you save the Holidays!

The overall process is deceptively simple:

Get Started

First, make sure that your credit union knows the important dates for this reporting. Knowing the deadlines to report IRA/HSA/ESA information to the IRS and your IRA/HSA Owners or ESA Designated Beneficiaries will aid in planning your work load over this busy season.

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A Year-End IRA Program Checklist for Your Credit Union

It’s almost December, which means it’s time for “making a list and checking it twice”—a task that doesn’t apply only to your holiday gift list! Taking the appropriate year-end steps at your credit union in these final months of the year can help ensure smooth sailing for the upcoming tax reporting season.

We reached out to our IRA experts at Ascensus, to get the skinny on what your credit union should start thinking about doing now and in December to make sure you’re in good shape for the busy IRA distribution and reporting season coming up. We made the list, now you check it twice!

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