2016 EECU Mayfest RunAs the title sponsor of this year’s EECU Mayfest Run, we are working with our partner companies to raise funds to support Cook Children’s Medical Center in their efforts to advance patient care and provide hope to thousands of children and their families.

Through a Patient Partner Program, we have paired five Mayfest runners with five Cook Children’s patients to allow the participating children to “cross the finish line” with assistance. Thanks to the runners’ support and encouragement, what could be a difficult task of participating in this race for the patients, can instead become a moment they’ll never forget.

“A willing and able runner giving a supportive hand to a child in need is more than symbolic,” said Lonnie Nicholson, EECU President and CEO. “It is an express commitment that we can all help our communities and in particular those in our communities who are most vulnerable. We are pleased we can support the Mayfest charities as well as well as this year’s patient-runner teams to benefit Cook Children’s.”

Fundraising efforts will help patients like 6 year old Matty, 11 year old Alex, and thousands of other Cook Children’s patients. Read Matty and Alex’s stories and donate today at eecu.org/donate.

Pictured Left to Right: Lonnie Nicholson (EECU President & CEO), Kiana Headland (Alvarado High School), Christian Turnley (Keller High School), Emily Hailey (Fort Worth Christian School), Sydney Peel (Colleyville Heritage High School), Frank Molinar (White Settlement ISD Superintendent and EECU Board Member), Deanna Pierce (Richland High School).
Pictured Left to Right: Lonnie Nicholson (EECU President & CEO), Claire Hamilton (Kennendale High School), Makenna Barbara (Arlington Heights High School), Wyatt Reeves (R.L. Paschal High School), K’see Shae Clark (Blum High School), Adam Thomas (Timber Creek High School), Frank Molinar (White Settlement ISD Superintendent and EECU Board Member), Ethan Sii (Decatur High School).

On Tuesday, March 22, EECU announced the 2016 Glenn Mandeville Memorial Scholarship winners at its annual meeting. EECU awarded $30,000 in scholarships to support six local graduating high school students with their college expenses. The EECU Scholarship Program began 28 years ago and honors former board member Glenn Mandeville, a life-long educator. Since that time, EECU has awarded more than $450,000 in scholarship money to local students.

“EECU has a deep affinity for supporting education,” said Lonnie Nicholson, EECU President and CEO. “Higher education can be an essential springboard to building productive lives, but unfortunately, college expenses also can be a significant burden. EECU is proud to be able to recognize and financially assist these deserving students, and we wish them tremendous success in their academic pursuits.”

The following six students were names as recipients of the $5,000 scholarships for 2016:

  • Makenna Barbara, Arlington Heights High School – plans to study Environmental Engineering at Texas Christian University
  • K’see Shae Clark, Blum High School – plans to study Elementary Education at Stephen F Austin State University
  • Claire Hamilton, Kennedale High School – plans to study Spanish Education at East Texas Baptist University
  • Wyatt Reeves, R.L. Paschal High School – plans to study Physics and Computer Science (school to be determined)
  • Ethan Sii, Decatur High School – plans to study Biology at University of Alabama
  • Adam Thomas, Timber Creek High School – plans to study Vocal Performance or Music Education (school to be determined)

Congratulations to the 2016 Scholarship winners!

Choosing a Tax PreparerTax season is in full swing. Looking for the perfect tax preparer can be a daunting task, and unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all with this search. Below are a few tips to help you figure out how to find the best tax preparer for you. The key, as with hiring any professional, is to ask questions. Lots of questions. And not just about pricing. Here are 12 recommended questions to ask a potential tax preparer:

  1. Do you have a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number)?This should be your first question. Anyone who prepares federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid 2016 PTIN before preparing returns. Without a PTIN, a tax preparer is not allowed to prepare your return – this isn’t something you want to find out at the end. You can check out PTIN qualifications on your own by using the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) online PTIN directory.
  2. What is your tax background?A slew of letters following a name on a business card doesn’t necessarily mean more qualified. It can mean that the person has passed certain tests or has specific tax training. So ask what those letters mean – and how they would relate to the preparation of your return. Don’t be blinded by the alphabet soup. Here’s a quick guide to help you sort it out in advance:
    • A certified financial planner (CFP) is a designation for financial planners given by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. A CFP must meet certain education requirements, pass an exam, have experience in the field, pass fitness standards and pay a certification fee: the coursework and exam do have tax and tax planning components as determined by the Board. A CFP may have tax experience but tax may not necessarily be the focus of their practice.
    • A certified public accountants (CPA) is certified by the state to act as a public accountant. All CPAs are accountants but not all accountants are CPAs.To qualify as a CPA, candidates are required to pass an exam. Most states also require an ethics exam or course as well as continuing education credits. A CPA may specialize in tax but not necessarily: there’s a wide range of CPA services including accounting, auditing, financial planning, technology consulting and business valuation.
    • An enrolled agent (EA)has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test or through experience as a former IRS employee. EA status is the highest credential the IRS awards. EAs must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.
    • AFSP (Annual Filing Season Program) participants are non-credentialed return preparers who have met voluntary requirements established by IRS. Those requirements include 18 hours of continuing education, (includes a six-hour federal tax law refresher course with an exam). AFSP participants who have met the criteria receive a Record of Completion and are included in a public database of return preparers on the IRS website.
    • A JD (Juris Doctor) is a law degree: having a JD means that you’ve graduated from law school but does not always mean you’ve passed the bar exam. An LLM (Master of Laws) is a second law degree, kind of like a specialty (though ethics rules in many states won’t allow you to say that). An LLM could be focused on taxation but may not be (you could have an LLM in Trial Advocacy, for example). As with a CPA, JD candidates are required to pass an exam, an ethics exam or course and take continuing education credits. Having a law degree or two doesn’t necessarily mean that an attorney prepares returns or has tax experience (you don’t have to demonstrate competence in tax law to pass the bar in most states). Avoid a lawyer who promises to do your taxes, get you out of that DUI and help you with your divorce all in the same breath.
    • A Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)volunteer is trained by the IRS to prepare basic returns.
    • Other accountants, bookkeepers, and tax preparers may be able to demonstrate competence but may not have formal credentials. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a look. Ask about what they do and why they’re qualified to do it.
  3. Have you prepared a (fill in the blank) tax return before? There’s no one size fits all – that’s because tax returns are not all the same. Some tax preparers can do forms 1040-EZ in their sleep. Others are fluent in Schedules C (business) and/or E (rentals). Some may focus on pass-through entities, tax-exempt organizations or fiduciary returns. Tax preparers may focus on international taxpayers and expats or small businesses. There are as many variations as there are schedules and forms. It’s not uncommon for tax preparers – especially those that have been around for a while – to have a pretty wide scope of knowledge. But nobody can do it all and don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise. If you have special circumstances because of your investments, occupation or residency status, find a tax preparer who has experience with your specific situation.
  4. Do you know the requirements of the states and localities where I am required to file?Yes, federal income taxes know no boundaries – those rules don’t change from one state to the next. But that’s not true when it comes to states and localities. Your state or locality may have quirky filing requirements, especially for business owners. It can get even more complicated if you’ve moved from state to state during the year or if you live in one state and work in another. You may also need special guidance if you own a business or real estate in a state outside of your residency or if you are the beneficiary of a trust or estate in another state. Make sure that your preparer knows – and can handle – all of those filing requirements.
  5. What records and other documentation will you need from me? While you shouldn’t be expected to haul in the contents of your entire home office, a reputable preparer should insist that you provide your forms W-2, 1099, 1098and other verification of income and expenses in order to prepare a proper return. You shouldn’t use a preparer willing to e-file your return just by using a pay stub (that’s against IRS rules). A tax preparer should be able to explain what will be needed for special schedules, forms or circumstances. If a preparer isn’t inclined to do the necessary due diligence (especially for something like the Earned Income Tax Credit) in the beginning, it should give you pause about what other corners the preparer might be willing to cut later – at your expense.
  6. How do you determine your fees?Note the wording on this one. This doesn’t say ask how much the fees would be but how the fees are determined. Prices may vary based on the complexity of your return, whether you require additional schedules (such as dividend and interest on Schedule B, business information on Schedule C, capital gains and losses on Schedule D and/or rental income and losses on Schedule E); supporting forms (such as those for the child tax credit or additional charitable donation information); or whether your return has out of the ordinary line items (like Roth IRA conversions). Some preparers offer reduced costs for federal return but add on for state and local returns: make sure you understand the total cost. Finally, be wary of preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your anticipated refund: they have a financial incentive to encourage inappropriate credits and deductions.
  7. What about the extras?There’s nothing wrong with paying for the extras: just make sure that you know what those might be ahead of time. When asking about fees (see #6), be sure to ask about the cost of extra services, like the cost to fix any mistakes or to file electronically (see #7). A tax preparer should not charge you extra for a copy of your return when the return is prepared (though charging you extra for additional copies may be appropriate).
  8. Can I file electronically?More than 1 billion individual tax returns have been processed since the debut of electronic filing in 1990. It’s the fastest way to get your refund and tends to result in fewer math errors. It may also be required: a paid preparer who prepares and files more than ten client returns must generally file returns electronically unless the client opts out.
  9. Who will sign my return?Remember that your preparer must have a PTIN (see again #1). The PTIN and the preparer’s signature need to appear on your tax return. Don’t trust a preparer who refuses to sign a return or asks you to sign as self-prepared.
  10. When will I receive a copy of my return?It’s not unreasonable to leave your preparer’s office without a copy of your completed return; assembly may be required. However, you should receive a complete copy of your return within a reasonable amount of time following your appointment. If your preparer can’t offer a window of time to expect the copy, it might be indicative of a time management problem. If your preparer can’t promise you a copy at all, run, don’t walk away: you will need a copy for your own records.
  11. How do I find you if I have a question or a problem after tax season is over?Be wary of tax preparers with shops that pop up on street corners during tax season and then go missing for half the year. Clients often receive requests from taxing authorities for additional information in October or November: make sure that you know how to contact the tax preparer after your return has been filed. If your tax preparer won’t be around, consider taking your business elsewhere.
  12. What happens if I get audited?Nobody wants to think about an audit when filing a return. But you need to ask: find out how the tax preparer handles audits or examinations from IRS. Will he or she respond to those questions? Can the tax preparer represent you in front of IRS or Tax Court? Remember that attorneys, CPAs, and Enrolled Agents are the only tax professionals with unlimited representation rights, meaning they can represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals in front of the IRS. AFSP participants have limited representation rights, meaning they can represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service. For 2016, PTIN holders without an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion or other professional credential are only be permitted to prepare tax returns. That doesn’t have to be a deal breaker (there are professionals who focus on audits if you need to hire someone later) but you should understand the scope of services and representation before you agree to become a client.

This is a long list. But don’t feel self-conscious about asking lots of questions: most of these require pretty simple answers. Choosing a good tax preparer does require a little bit of research and effort on your part but it’s worth it. And admit it: you asked at least this many questions when finding a hairdresser or a pediatrician. Just as you wouldn’t dream of going to a different doctor every year or skipping from one auto mechanic to the next, you’re looking for constancy. The goal of hiring a tax preparer isn’t to find someone who can merely fill out a form this year but to establish a professional relationship. A good tax preparer wants that, too, and won’t mind answering your questions.

Article sourced from Forbes.com, Jan. 18, 2016 (edited)

Food-Drive-Results

The 2015 EECU Holiday Food Drive was a resounding success. As in prior years, EECU hosted the Holiday Food Drive to gather donations for Tarrant Area Food Bank. This year, we collected more than 3,600 pounds of food – that  will help provide more than 3,000 meals to local families in need. Due to the generosity of our employees and many of our members, EECU once again successfully delivered on our ongoing commitment to the Fort Worth community. Thank you for your support.

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Join EECU and Tarrant Area Food Bank on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, to celebrate the City of Hurst Christmas Tree Lighting. To help usher in the holiday season, EECU is working to fill the food bank with plenty of food to serve families in need this season.

Stop by EECU’s tent at the parking shuttle drop-off and donate non-perishable food items to help fill Tarrant Area Food Bank. While you’re there, you can enter to win* a $250 family package to see ICE!®  at the Gaylord Texan Resort®. Continue reading

Great news! Now, members can add any EECU MasterCard® credit or debit card to Apple Pay to pay in stores and in apps with a single touch. We are excited to offer this service to our members who we know are eager to use this service on their phones.

Apple Pay offers many great benefits:

  • An Easier Way to Pay—Members are able to make purchases at hundreds of thousands of stores and in participating apps.
  • Pay with a Single Touch—Once members load an EECU credit or debit card to Apple Pay, they can pay for purchases by holding their phone near point-of-sale terminal readers with their fingers on TouchID™. There’s no need to open an app or even wake the phone.
  • A Secure Way to Pay—Apple Pay uses the latest security technology. Every transaction is authorized with TouchID™ or passcode.

View our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about EECU and Apple Pay. Or, visit apple.com/apple-pay to see how Apple Pay will change the way you pay.

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EECU is now accepting applications for the Glenn Mandeville Memorial Scholarship program for high school seniors. If you, your child or someone you know is preparing for graduation this year and meets the criteria below, download an application and submit it by January 31, 2016, at any EECU office or by mail.

In order to be considered:

  • Applicant must be a high school senior
  • Applicant must be a member in good standing with EECU or parent/legal guardian must be a member in good standing with EECU
  • Applicant must express on their application their intended course of study
  • Recipient of scholarship funds must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5 to receive annual distribution of funds
  • The scholarship must be used for the purpose of study at an accredited college or university
  • Academic achievement, character, leadership and personal recommendations will be considered in the selection of scholarship recipients
  • Applicant must include all required documentation and transcripts

The scholarship committee will select six recipients – three who are seeking a career in education and three who are pursuing other areas of study – to receive $5,000 in funds. See application for full details and instructions.

TAFB LogoWith holidays approaching in just a few weeks, thousands of North Texas families will seek help from local organizations to put food on the table. In order to make this season brighter for families in need, EECU is partnering with our friends and neighbors at Tarrant Area Food Bank to put food on the table.

Since 2011, EECU has collected 3,000 pounds of food to help feed families in need; and this year we will continue the tradition. We invite you to join us by purchasing non-perishable food items and dropping them off at any of EECU’s 14 branch locations through Friday, December 11. No matter how small or large, your donation will make all the difference in the world for a deserving area family.

Most Requested Food items

  • Canned meats (tuna, chicken, ham, etc.)
  • Peanut butter (no glass jars)
  • Boxed pasta
  • Boxed or canned soup
  • Canned fruit
  • Canned vegetables
  • Dried beans
  • Cereal
  • Rice
  • Boxed or canned juice

Donate now through December 11 at any EECU branch!

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Fort Worth-based credit union EECU officially celebrated the opening of its newest branch at Alliance Town Center Oct. 6 with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The branch, located at 3451 Texas Sage Trail in the quickly growing Hillwood development, serves the North Fort Worth community as the credit union’s 14th Dallas-Fort Worth area location. Continue reading