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NEA Student Loan Program Offers New Parent and Graduate Student Loan Options

NEA Member Benefits is pleased to make available an expanded array of NEA Student Loan Program options that provides NEA members and their families more choices to better meet their education financing needs.

In addition to the NEA® Smart Option (Undergraduate) Student Loan® by Sallie Mae®, a new NEA Parent Loan is now being offered with features as follows:

 

NEA Parent Loan:

  • For those who wish to give the gift of education—the borrower does not have to be the student’s parent
  • The borrower (e.g., parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, spouse or other adult) is the primary borrower—the student is not a party to the loan
  • Eligible to receive the 0.25% NEA exclusive rate discount after 12 consecutive on-time payments
  • Choice of fixed or variable loan rates
  • Choose interest-only or principal and interest repayment while the student is attending school

 

The current NEA Graduate Student Loan has been enhanced with new options:

  • Repayment terms and deferral periods that are customizable based on the student’s area and length of study (includes options for MBA, Medical School, Dental School, Health Professions, Law School and more)
  • Extended terms and/or grace periods may be available for students whose programs require a much longer time commitment and often higher loan amounts

 

NEA Graduate Student Loan borrowers are still eligible to receive the 0.25% NEA exclusive rate discount after 12 consecutive on-time payments and have a choice of fixed or variable loan rates.

Members may access information on the new NEA Parent Loan program and additional Graduate Student Loan options online at www.neamb.com/sl.

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YOO HOO, THE TAX MAN COMETH!!

A month and a half away brings that pleasant time of the year when we must file our income taxes.  Such fun!!

As a member of the IEA/NEA you have certain benefits that will help you save money through certain tax preparation services.

 

Through NEA Click and Save you can save up to $20 on software products with H&R Block and Turbotax.  Check it out at neamb.com/clickandsave.  You will have to register to get deeper into the Click and Save site but once you are there look for the “tax services” banner.

 

Also through the Educator Access Discount Program you can save up to $25 with H&R Block.  You can use this service by visiting the IEA Member Benefits website ieamemberbenefits.org and clicking on the picture of the membership card at the bottom of the home page.  This will take you to the Access site.  Once there you can register by following the prompts using your IEA member ID from your membership card (hint: you will find the same number on the mailing label on your latest NEA Today magazine.)  Once you have registered then you can do the search for H&R Block and take advantage of the savings.

 

Plus, there is one more option for filing your taxes:

 

MyFreeTaxes.com is a 100% free program aimed at those who qualify.

  • Individuals or families that earned $66,000 or less in 2017 can file federal and up to three state taxes for free through an easy, safe platform and save an average of $200 in tax preparation fees.
  • MyFreeTaxes is sponsored by United Way and powered by H&R Block.
  • Filers can start their taxes online and finish them on their computer, tablet or smart phone. They can even upload their W-2s and other tax forms by taking a picture on their phones.
  • The premium software is guaranteed to be 100% accurate and ensures filers get the maximum refund.
  • Filers are not solicited, ever.

If you qualify, visit MyFreeTaxes.com or text MyFreeTaxes to 313131 to get started.

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TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR GOALS

Start the second half of your school year strong. Check out neamb.com/newyear for helpful tips on:

 

  • FINANCE: Learn how to keep your New Year’s financial solutions on track, simple ways to build a stress-free budget and more.
  • WELLNESS: See how busy educators are fitting fitness into their school day, get tips to help you reduce stress and more.
  • TAX PREP: Find out what educator tax deductions you can take, if you qualify for free tax preparation and more.

 

DON’T MISS THESE USEFUL TIPS, INCLUDING:

  • How to reduce your monthly bills
  • The secret to reducing debt painlessly
  • 6 ways to create a work/life balance

 

Get the financial and wellness resources you need to make 2018 your best year yet. Visit neamb.com/newyear today!

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SPEAKING OF TAXES – ARE YOU MISSING OUT ON THESE EDUCATOR TAX DEDUCTIONS?

Read this before you file your tax return. NEA Member Benefits will help you claim your educator deductions so you can get back as much money as possible.

 

Legislation passed late in 2015 ended the annual ritual of “tax extenders” that kept everyone on tenterhooks regarding certain educator tax benefits. But now the tax reform bill passed in late December 2017 has muddied the picture.

Keep in mind the new tax reform only kicks in for 2018 and does not apply to your 2017 tax returns. The good news is that it does keep the $250 above-the-line deduction for classroom supplies. However, the tuition and fees deduction expired at the end of 2016 and was not renewed retroactively for 2017 or for future tax years.

The NEA and its members pushed legislators for many years to make the extension permanent, and following the outcry after the House’s original proposal called for the elimination of the deduction, the bill that ultimately passed left the above-the-line $250 classroom supplies deduction intact.

The $250 deduction is particularly advantageous because it is an above-the-line deduction on Schedule A, which means you don’t have to itemize to take it and it reduces your overall adjusted gross income (AGI). This will become even more important under the new tax reform because it virtually doubles the standard deduction, setting the threshold even higher for choosing to itemize. The 2015 legislation indexed the amount to inflation—though it is unchanged at $250 for 2017—and allows professional development expenses to be included in the deduction.

Educators may also still benefit from the state and local sales tax deduction (an alternative for states with no state income tax to deduct from federal taxes) even though those breaks don’t target them specifically. However, you must itemize in order to claim these deductions. For the 2017 tax year, the deduction can be unlimited and the standard deduction remains at the lower threshold. For 2018 and beyond, the deduction for state and local taxes, including property taxes, will be capped at $10,000 and the threshold for itemizing will be much higher with the increased standard deduction.

Many provisions of the tax code have income caps and phase-outs and other wrinkles that may affect your actual tax liability. Be sure to work with a tax advisor or reliable tax software that clearly addresses your situation, especially if you are in the higher income brackets. And keeping receipts or a careful log is critical for the classroom supplies deduction and other tax benefits.

Other situations faced by educators preparing their taxes include:

 

Income from outside work, such as a summer job or tutoring

If there is no additional withholding on this outside work, you want to be sure to avoid a penalty for under-withholding—i.e., when your overall tax liability exceeds the amount of tax you had withheld by certain margins.

If this is the first year you have had extra income, there won’t be any penalty, because your withholding at work will cover 100% of your previous year’s income. If you regularly have extra income, your best option is to specify a certain additional amount on your W-4 to be withheld. (Previously, it was possible to adjust your withholding by reducing the number of personal exemptions but these have now been removed in the tax reform.) The other remaining option is make quarterly payments of estimated tax on the additional income.

The outside income should be reported on a Schedule C, where you can also deduct any expenses associated with the outside job. You are also liable for “payroll” taxes (these are the contributions to Social Security and Medicare) on the extra income, which is calculated on a Schedule SE.

 

Other unreimbursed employment expenses

You can deduct expenses for classroom supplies beyond $250 as unreimbursed employment expenses, which are defined as expenses that help you conduct your job even if they are not required.

However, these additional deductions are subject to the 2% limit on itemized deductions—this means you can only deduct the amount that exceeds 2% of your AGI.

If your AGI is $50,000, for instance, you could only deduct expenses that exceed $1,000, even if you are already itemizing deductions for mortgage interest or other reasons. This is a hard threshold to meet and will be even harder to justify when the new higher standard deduction discourages itemizing.

The same applies for expenses such as dues to unions and professional associations or subscriptions to publications.

Rules for deducting expenses for a home office are fairly strict (as well as for equipment such as computers). The home office space must be used exclusively for work purposes, which is a tough criterion.

 

Continuing education

Congress failed to renew the deduction and fees for college tuition for 2017, eliminating one of the options for a tax break if you take courses that you pay for yourself, whether or not they are required for certification. The remaining option, which is a permanent part of the tax code, is the Lifetime Learning Credit for 20% of education expenses up to $2,000. This is a credit, so it is taken off your tax liability dollar for dollar. However, it is nonrefundable, which means you have to have some tax liability for it to count against.

From the IEA Executive Director

"I feel that being an IEA member is a professional right and responsibility. Partnering with MBC just makes your membership an even more valuable resource."

Sue (Scott) Wigdorski
Idaho Education Association
Executive Director

From the IEA President

“The IEA is the voice for public education in Idaho, the leader in professional development opportunities, and the greatest source for support for the education profession. Having access to discounts from an array of vendors through Member Benefits is an added bonus for members!”

Kari Overall
President
Idaho Education Association

Contact Info

208.344.8336 / 800.223.6583  
ieamemberbenefits.org
iea-mbc@idahoea.org

IEA Member Benefits Corporation
620 N 6th Street - Boise Idaho 83702

Copyright 2017 © All Rights Reserved

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