January 04, 2019, 8:54 AM
Whether you're going to owe big this year or get something back, it's still a chore to go through the motions and get everything submitted by that April deadline.
But, have you considered whether you are taking advantage of the right deductions? Before you submit your return, here are some of the most overlooked tax deductions that you may want to include this year.
A Second Home.
Use Schedule A to itemize any expenses related to a second home such as property taxes and mortgage interest. Remember you can count a boat or RV as a second home as long it has a bathroom and kitchen.
Not every investment is a winner, and you can take deductions on those that you sold at a loss in the prior tax year. This would be shown as reduced earnings against the same class of stocks, such as other long or short-term stocks.
FSA and HSA Contributions.
Healthcare is expensive, and you still have some hefty deductions in the form of Flexible Spending Accounts ($2,650 for 2019) and a Health Savings Account ($3,500 for an individual).
Military Moving Expenses.
While most moving expense deductions have been eliminated, members of the armed forces are still permitted to use this valuable deduction.
2018 marked a year of several natural disasters from major hurricanes to flooding to massive wildfires. If you were the victim of one of the tragedies and in a federal disaster area, you are eligible for some tax relief.
Home Office Space.
If you are self-employed or make some extra cash on the side using a home office, you can claim a deduction for up to 300 square feet of home office space.
Service Animal Training.
IRS Publication 502 states that dog owners can deduct the cost of training and maintaining a service animal to help with hearing-impaired, visually-impaired, or other physical disabilities.
If things didn't go as planned at the casino, you can deduct gambling losses (with the right documentation) up to the extent of your winnings.
Student Loan Interest.
Student loan interest is tax-deductible, and a child can even write off up to $2,500 per year even if their parents are making the payments, provided that child is not considered a dependent of those same parents.
There is now a tax credit equal to 100 percent of the first $2,000 paid in college expenses each year, plus 25 percent of the next $2,000. College expenses refer to payments for tuition, fees, and books.
Stress-Free Banking with City Bank
Whether your goal this year is to buy a home or car, save more, or start a business, City Bank can help. We offer local relationship banking combined with innovative online and mobile tools. Contact us now to learn more about how our services can help you achieve your goals.
*This is for informational purposes only and you should contact a professional tax advisor with any specific tax filing questions.
January 02, 2019, 10:42 AM
It is almost as popular a practice to break a New Year's resolution as to make one in the first place. If you're just going to create a list of promises to yourself and then chuck it to the side within a matter of a few days or weeks, what's the point?
Now that 2019 is upon us, should you even bother reflecting on the past year and creating some goals for the coming one? Experts agree that roughly half of people who do have a successful list of resolutions have a few things in common when it comes to their plans.
Choose the Right Resolution
Time management company Franklin Covey discovered that about one-third of New Year's resolutions don't make it until February. The main reason for this is that people don't put enough thought into choosing their goals.
Not only should a resolution be achievable (so you don't get discouraged) but it should also be meaningful. When you create your resolutions for 2019, they should be specific ("I want to lose 10 lbs" instead of "I want to lose weight."), measurable (see the last criteria), achievable (realistic but a slight stretch is ok), relevant (it matters to you), and time-bound (you set a deadline).
Create a Plan
Wishing doesn't make it so, which means that you'll need to create a plan to achieve each of your resolutions. Let's abandon the weight loss resolution and look at something else. Assuming you want to save $100 per paycheck to go towards a down payment on a new home, how will you achieve this? Have you identified expenses you can cut back on to help you save or ways to earn some extra income?
Few people achieve all of their goals seamlessly, and this isn't the reality for most people. Change can be difficult, so it's important that you have a plan to tackle hurdles along the way. Going back to the money-saving example, can you break it down into $50 per week of savings? Or, maybe you need a few months to get to your goal of saving $100 per paycheck. If so, create a schedule that you can keep.
Make it a Group Effort
There's a good chance that you're not the only person looking to make some changes in the coming year. Sure, you could probably find a Facebook group designated just for "2019 Resolutions," but you can also keep your support system more intimate. Just let a few people close to you know what you're doing and ask them to give you some encouragement or hold you accountable.
If You Fall a Little Short
There are no failures. As long as you keep trying to make positive changes in your life, you can consider each attempt a success. What matters the most is that you treat yourself with kindness and continue to create goals that will improve your health, happiness, and future.
Can City Bank Help You Achieve Your Goals in 2019?
Many New Year's resolutions are financial in nature. If you want to save more cash, get approved for a credit card, open a business, or buy a new home in 2019, find out how City Bank can help you achieve your goals.
December 19, 2018, 9:16 AM
Do you have a credit card in your wallet that has become your default tried and true solution when it's time to charge a purchase? There's nothing wrong with loyalty, but it might be time to make a change if you can get some perks in return.
One recent study found that about 49 million Americans have never switched their main credit card and nearly 20 million have held onto the same card for a decade. Premium credit cards are now more popular than ever, and City Bank offers a range of three personal credit cards to meet your needs.
Feature-Packed Low-APR Credit Cards
City Bank offers consumers a choice of three credit cards, all with a low APR. Our Mastercard® Platinum card comes with a 0.00% introductory APR for six months (including balance transfers). After that, your APR will vary depending on your creditworthiness, with a rate between 10.99% to 18.99%. Terms and Conditions
Both the Mastercard Platinum Rewards card and the Mastercard World card offer a 14.99% to 20.99% APR, based on creditworthiness. These rates are also available for balance transfers.
Terms and Conditions
No Annual Fee
There is no annual fee for a City Bank credit card. Premium credit cards from other major providers can have annual fees that are an average of $95 to as much as $195. Not only do you get a credit card without having to pay a fee, but you will also receive one that comes with several perks.
Get Perks with a City Bank Credit Card
The City Bank credit card you choose will depend on your particular needs and desire for certain benefits. Some of the most attractive perks featured by each card include:
Consumer Platinum Rewards
1 reward point earned for each dollar spent on the credit card.
Get a one-time bonus of 5,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.1
Redeem reward points in various categories such as cash back, travel, and gift cards.
Terms and Conditions
Consumer World (Rewards)
Earn double points for every dollar spent on hotels, airfare, dining, and car rentals.2
Earn 1 reward point for every dollar spent on non-travel purchases.
Get a one-time bonus of 10,000 points if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.1
Premium concierge services - a personal assistant 24/7 who can help with travel planning and on-site assistance while you are away from home.3
Terms and Conditions
No matter which card you choose, you will have access to 24/7 customer service, multiple payment options, a dedicated account manager, extended warranties, identity theft and price protection, and rental coverage.
Which City Bank Credit Card is Right for You?
With several amazing choices in consumer credit cards, it can be difficult to choose. Maybe the choice is clear, and you are ready to apply now.
If you have any questions about our low APR credit cards, their features, or just need some help finding the one that suits your needs, give City Bank a call. Reach us today at (800) 687-2265 or come into one of our branches to get started.
Subject to Credit Approval. Ask for details.
1Upon approval, a letter will be mailed acknowledging your new account. The Rewards Bonus period begins on the date of the new account letter and ends 90 days later. For details on the Rewards Program, please visit city.bank/myapexcard.com/apply and select Rewards Terms and Conditions. Reward options are subject to change without notice. 2We group similar merchant category codes into Purchase Categories that are used to calculate the stated reward points. We make every effort to include all relevant merchant category codes in the listed Purchase Categories. However, even though a merchant or the items that it sells may appear to fit within a Purchase Category, the merchant may not provide us with the merchant code that will fall within that Purchase Category. Because of this, we cannot guarantee that a purchase will qualify for more than the standard 1 (one) rewards points as any purchase where a merchant uses a category code outside of the eligible Purchase Category does not qualify for additional rewards points. 3Certain terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Please consult your Guide to Benefits for specific benefit configuration.
MasterCard® is a registered trademark of MasterCard International Incorporated.
December 13, 2018, 9:04 AM
While those holiday sales might seem irresistible, it is still going to cost you some cash to take advantage of the deals that major retailers are advertising this year. Granted, it's a season of "giving," but you might be being too generous if you are going into debt to show loved ones how much you care.
It's never fun to face the new year with unpaid bills from the holidays. You can avoid this and still find the perfect gifts with these tips to rein in your holiday spending this year.
Have a Budget
Before you buy a single item, sit down and create a budget for your holiday shopping. Not only do you want to have an overall budget for your spending, but also one that is broken down per person. When you make your list, don't forget to include extra items that often add up such as wrapping paper and boxes and stocking stuffers.
Know Your Prices
Make a detailed list of the people that you want to buy gifts for and the items you want to buy. Research these products so that you know what the regular price is and can search for the best deal. Look for store coupons that can help you get additional money off on purchases.
For unique gifts, it's always a good idea to support local businesses. However, you might get the best prices on some items by shopping online. This is particularly the case if you can score free shipping. Retailmenot is one site that will help you compare online prices on many products and locate some online discount codes.
When you head out for some holiday shopping or get online, buy what you came for and then walk away. Avoid the temptation to add "just one more thing" to your shopping cart or to even purchase a little something for yourself while you're there. You'll be surprised at how much money you'll save with this one rule.
Consider Gift Alternatives
Buying expensive gifts for loved ones isn't the only way to show them that you care. There are many alternatives that can be just as meaningful as something you bought in a store. A few ideas include:
Give handmade items such as baked goods and crafts.
Have a large gathering of family and friends instead of giving gifts. Ask everyone to bring something to eat.
Instead of buying a gift for everyone in your family, use the Secret Santa approach to pick just one relative for a holiday present.
Give to or ask for gifts to a favorite charity this year instead of a gift exchange.
A Final Word from City Bank
It's entirely too easy to get caught up in the holiday spending cycle. But, having a plan in place will ensure that you don't face any surprises in your next bank statement. If you haven't opened a checking or savings account yet, learn more about City Bank's feature-packed personal banking solutions now.
November 30, 2018, 9:04 AM
It can be a challenge to successfully build and manage a business. Not everyone is born a natural entrepreneur, but the rewards of being a small business owner still make this one of the most enticing options.
If you're looking to grow your business over the next year and beyond, this starts with better management today. Even if you don't have the biggest budget and largest staff, this is completely possible. Here are several tips to better manage your small business and set it up for continued growth.
Use Project Management Tools
Every small business endeavor is a series of "projects," whether it be the launch of a new product, an office move, or the implementation of new quality control measures.
As a business owner, you can better manage and track these projects using a variety of project management software programs and platforms. Some offer free trials and others, such as Bitrix24 and Freedcamp, are completely free.
Creating an E-Commerce Site
In 2017 alone, U.S. consumers spent more than $446 billion online on retail goods, and that figure is expected to soar to $700 billion by 2022. If your small business isn't selling its products and services online, it is missing a significant opportunity.
For a small investment, you can create a website with an e-commerce platform. Even if you want to save some cash, there are free or low-cost options such as WooCommerce and Shopify.
Boost Your Online Marketing
More and more potential customers are using the internet to influence their purchasing decisions. They look on social media, review sites, and read email messages before pulling out their credit cards or picking up the phone. 78% of consumers in one study said that their purchasing decisions were impacted by a company's social media posts. As a small business owner, it's time to boost your online marketing.
There are social media management platforms, such as Hootsuite, to help you manage these accounts in one place. You can also create an effective email marketing campaign with affordable providers such as Constant Contact or MailChimp.
Don't Ignore Financial Management
More small businesses fail because of financial mismanagement than any other reason. Even if you have the best product or service on the market and the friendliest team, you still need to manage your inventory, cash flow, and take care of Uncle Sam.
If you're not using an online accounting service, it's probably time to start. There are cloud-based solutions for small businesses available such as QuickBooks that can help you manage invoices, payroll, taxes, and periodic reporting to help you stay on track and grow your organization.
Manage Your Future with City Bank
City Bank wants to participate in your company's success, and we invite a discussion about how we can help you achieve your financial goals. We offer a wide range of small business financial tools such as business deposit accounts, treasury management, and commercial lending. If your company is looking for small business funding, contact us at (800) OUR-BANK or come into one of our branches today.
November 27, 2018, 9:17 AM
Temperatures are starting to plummet across the country, and winter weather can have devastating consequences for your home and household budget. Fortunately, you can take some precautions to avoid the inconvenience and expense of winter damage.
Common Winter Weather Issues in Your Home
Property damage and dangerous accidents can occur thanks to extreme winter weather. In 2016 alone, winter storms were the cause of approximately $1 billion in insured losses. Here are some of the most typical winter weather-related risks to your home and how you can address them.
Heavy rain. This can lead to leaky roofs as well as sewer and water backups. To prevent interior flooding, have a sump pump installed with a battery backup. It should also have backflow valves on drains, sewer connections, and toilets.
Ice storms and heavy snow. These can clog gutters and damage roofs, leading to ice dams, water intrusion, and even mold damage. Keep tree branches trimmed that could break due to the heavy weight of ice or snow. Also, clean snow and ice off of roofs and clear out gutters.
Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. A buildup in a stovepipe or chimney can cause catastrophic structure fires. Keep these cleared out and schedule an annual checkup for both.
Ice buildup on driveways, sidewalks, and outdoor stairs. Slip and falls on ice can lead to injury and a negligence claim on your insurance policy. Keep these areas shoveled and salted, and have them adequately lit for improved visibility.
Overloaded or wrongly placed Christmas trees. While not connected to weather, Christmas trees that are not handled properly cause many injuries and deaths this time of year due to fires. Avoid using frayed lighting, overloading them, or placing them next to heaters.
Exposed pipes. An exposed pipe can freeze, contract, and burst, leading to massive damage inside your home. You should insulate your exposed pipes and shut off outdoor water faucets or the water supply if the weather will be particularly extreme.
What You Need to Know About Insurance
You should have adequate insurance coverage in place to protect your property whether you own or rent your home. You may be able to receive additional discounts on your premiums with a few simple adjustments.
Structural changes. Your insurance policy should reflect changes to the structure that might include a new roof, windows, or other remodeling projects.
Fire prevention. Installing certain modern fire prevention devices might qualify you for premium discounts.
Other vehicles. If you store an RV or boat off-site, ask about limits on coverage under your current policy.
It's always a good idea to update your home inventory annually so that you have an accurate list of the value of your possessions. When your policy renewal data comes up, speak to your agent about any changes and find out if you qualify for additional discounts.
How Can City Bank Help?
At City Bank, we are committed to our customers and want you to have the most useful financial tools and knowledge necessary to help you achieve your financial goals. We offer a wide range of feature-rich personal banking services, including competitive mortgage options. Contact us now with any questions or to get started with establishing your new account.