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3 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund to Achieve Your Goals

April 27, 2022


What’s better than treating yourself? A strong financial foundation.

Completing your 2021 tax return feels good. Getting a refund feels even better. If you’re expecting a check from the federal government, you may already be browsing travel deals or those spring sales. But, if you set financial goals for yourself this year, your refund can help you take a significant step toward achieving them.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Pay down your high-interest debt
    Aspiring to be debt-free? Use your refund as a nice lump sum to put toward your high-interest credit card balance. Accelerate your progress by putting the money toward the principal, and make your monthly payment as planned.

  2. Build your emergency fund
    Having money set aside for emergencies can prevent you from draining your savings if the unexpected happens. A healthy emergency fund is six months’ worth of your essential living expenses (i.e., rent, groceries, transportation, debt payments, etc.). If you haven’t saved that much yet, use your tax refund as a starting point. Then, maintain your progress by setting up automatic transfers from each paycheck into a special account that’s only for emergencies.

  3. Grow your savings
    Whether you’re dreaming of a house, vacation or simply saving for the future, it’s always a good idea to build your wealth. By putting your tax refund into an account that earns interest, you can build your balance over time. Here are a couple of options:
    • Certificate of Deposit (CD) accounts usually offer higher rates than savings accounts. To avoid early withdrawal penalties, you’ll need to keep the money in the CD for a specific period of time, giving you extra motivation not to spend it.
    • Our Simple Savings account has an Annual Percentage Yield (APY) of 0.50%* on balances of $1 and over. It’s fully liquid so you can access your money when you need it while earning a little extra from the APY. Plus: it’s a completely digital account, so you can open yours up right from your couch.
     

    Your Apple banker can help you with these options. Find your local branch to explore all of the options you have, so your tax refund can be the start of a stronger financial future.
     

    *Annual Percentage Yield (APY) disclosed is effective as of March 29, 2022 and may be changed by the Bank at any time, including after account opening. For the Simple Savings Account, interest is earned on daily balances of $1 or more at these tiers: $1.00 - $49,999.99: 0.50% APY, $50,000.00 - $249,999.99: 0.50% APY, $250,000.00 - $999,999.99: 0.50% APY, $1,000,000.00 or more: 0.50% APY. There is no minimum amount required to open this account. Offer may be withdrawn at any time without prior notice.

     

    Let’s Ace the 2021 Tax Season.

    February 23, 2022
     

    We’ve gathered some tips to make filing your taxes as easy as possible.

    Tax season kicked off on January 24, when the IRS began accepting and processing 2021 tax returns. Knowing it may not be your favorite season, we’ve compiled some tips to help make the process a little smoother. Remember: The deadline to file or request an extension is Monday, April 18.

    Gather all of your records in one place.
    Don’t wait until you sit down to file to get your information together. Take time to organize your 2021 tax records, including:

    You can set up or log in to your IRS account to access personal tax account information, including previous payments and tax records (e.g., adjusted gross income). 

    Did you receive an Advance Child Tax Credit or an Economic Impact Payment in 2021? Keep those records handy, too.
    The IRS mailed letters to everyone who received an Advance Child Tax Credit or Economic Impact Payment last year. These letters contain important information, including the amount you received in each payment, so have them nearby when you fill out your tax return. 

    File electronically for a faster refund.
    If you file electronically, the IRS estimates that you will receive your refund check, if applicable, within 21 days. For even faster payments, set up Direct Deposit. View the instructions for setting it up on the IRS website.

    Be smart with your refund check.
    According to the IRS, last year’s average refund check was $2,800. For an easy way to grow your refund check, consider Apple Bank’s Simple Savings, our online account that allows you to earn interest on the money you save. Open your account today, so you can start saving as soon as your refund comes in.
     

    Will the New USPS Delivery Schedule Delay Your Banking?

    December 1, 2021
     

    Here are 2 quick things you can do to help ensure you’re on time.

    In October, the United States Post Office (USPS) announced longer delivery times for some types of First-Class Mail. That means it could take a few extra days for your bills to get to the right place. It may also take you a bit longer to receive paper statements from us.

    Timely updates on your transactions are crucial when it comes to effectively managing your accounts – and keeping fraud at bay. Here are two easy ways to use Digital Banking to avoid banking delays:

    1. Pay bills online.
      Avoid worrying about late fees by paying bills through your Digital Banking account. Our online bill pay feature is quick, easy and secure. If you ever come close to your due date, you can rest assured knowing an electronic payment is typically posted within two business days. You can also set up automatic payments to help you stay on top of monthly expenses, like your car, mortgage or loans.

    2. Sign up for eStatements
      With eStatements, you can get your statements as soon as they become available.

      Follow these easy steps to opt into eStatements:
                      1.  Log in to online banking
                      2.  Click “Alerts and Preferences”
                      3.  Select “Statement Delivery”
                      4.  Click “Delivery Type”


    New to Digital Banking? Let’s set you up!

    Visit applebank.com/enroll to get started. Our step-by-step guides walk you through the process.

    If you have any questions, our CustomerLine specialists are here to assist.  Call 914-902-2775.  After selecting your preferred language, press "6" to get help with Digital Banking.

     

    Are You Ready for Your Next Advance Child Tax Credit Payment?

    October 19, 2021
     

    Want to opt-out of future payments? Wondering how your credit was calculated? We have the info you need.
        
    Since July 15, eligible taxpayers have received monthly Advance Child Tax Credits (ACTC) from the Federal Government. These ACTC payments enable families under a certain income level with dependent children under 17 years old to receive part of their yearly tax credit in advance, rather than waiting until they file their 2021 tax return. Now a few months into the payments, some may wish to opt-out of future payments.

    If you wish to unenroll from the remaining ACTC payments, follow these steps:

    1. View the deadlines to unenroll for each payment.
    2. Visit the IRS’ Advance Child Tax Credit web page.
    3. Click the “Manage Payments” button.
    4. Follow the prompts.

    Wondering how the Federal Government calculated your payment amount?
    The highest payment amount for eligible taxpayers is $300 per month for each qualifying child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each qualifying child ages 6 to 17.

    You’ll get the maximum credit if you’re a taxpayer with a modified adjusted gross income (AGI) of:

    • $75,000 or less for singles
    • $112,500 or less for heads of household
    • $150,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return and qualified widows and widowers


    Looking for more info on ACTC payments?
    Click here to read our FAQ page.

    Fraud Warning: Be vigilant against financial scams. Advance Child Tax Credit payments create new opportunities for scammers to attempt to steal your information. Do not respond to any unsolicited requests for your information. Remember: the IRS will not initiate contact with you through email, text message or social media messages.

    If you feel your Apple Bank accounts may have been compromised, call CustomerLine at 914-902-2775. Our TDD number is 800-824-0710.
     

    4 Ways Scammers Try to Steal Your Financial Information – And How You Can Stop Them

    September 10, 2021
     

    Gone Phishing.
        
    When it comes to financial scams, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Phishing scams are getting more and more common among our customers – probably because these scams can be pretty convincing.

    So, what is phishing? Phishing is a type of scam in which cybercriminals use calls, emails, texts and fake websites to impersonate companies you may know and attempt to steal your personal information. Scammers often use threats to close your account or impose a penalty if you do not quickly provide the information they want. Once scammers get what they need, they’ll attempt to gain access to your account(s).

    Don’t take the bait! Here are some of the latest phishing scams we’ve seen, and how to protect yourself.

    COVID-19 Fraud
    Since the pandemic, we’ve seen scammers try to use false offers for COVID-19 tests, vaccines and supplies. Beware of fraudsters pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number, financial information, or attempt to set up a COVID-19 test for you and collect payment information for the test. 

    Read more about COVID-19 scams here.

    Fake Calls
    Scammers can make it look like they’re calling from Apple Bank, but they’re really trying to get your account information. If you get a suspicious call, hang up and call CustomerLine at 914-902-2775 to make sure you’re really speaking with Apple Bank.

    Malicious Links in Emails
    Be wary of email messages that look like a company you know, but really contain malicious links or attachments that release malware on your computer. Misspelled words, odd capitalization or a return email address that does not match the company name are all signs that an email could be fraudulent.
    If you have any doubt that an email is legitimate, delete it. If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from Apple Bank, forward it to [email protected], so we can investigate it.

     

    Avoid Elder Financial Abuse  

    September 10, 2021
     

    Apple Bank and the IRS share tips everyone should know

    Fraudsters create new scams daily, and, sadly, the pandemic created more fraud opportunities through Economic Impact Payments, false vaccine information, and other COVID-19-related scams.

    In a recent virtual seminar, Apple Bank, the Brooklyn Public Library and the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division, shared the latest financial scam trends and how elders can protect themselves.

    Here are some highlights from the seminar. To read more and watch the full seminar, click here.

    Be mindful of what you share on social media.

    1. Don’t post your vaccination card. Scammers could use that information to steal your identity.

    2. Ignore unsolicited COVID offers and claims. Beware of fraudsters who promise testing or vaccination appointments in exchange for your Medicaid and Medicare information. Remember: There is no cure for the COVID-19 virus. Anyone who claims to have one is a scammer.

    3. Look out for fraudsters in plain sight. It’s nice to be neighborly, but be cautious about allowing people you do not know well to run errands or perform financial tasks for you.

    4. Know the IRS will never threaten you or demand immediate payments. If the IRS does contact you, they will send multiple letters before calling or visiting your home.
      IMPORTANT: You have the right to see their badge number and call the IRS at 1-800-366-4484 to verify the agent’s identity.