Stirling Brandworks, Author at Common Trust FCU

Making Tax Prep Less Taxing

It’s NOT The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.

Nobody likes tax season. From late-night comics and memes to the family dinner table, no one holds back their feelings about kicking up to Uncle Sam. It could be the last thing left uniting all Americans – extreme dislike of tax season.

What seems to fuel much of America’s ill will towards tax time isn’t what’s due or what’s owed, but the preparation required for it. Tracking down old receipts, gathering all the necessary forms, and waiting impatiently for statements to arrive in the mail. Then, either settling in to do the math or finding someone to do it for us. 

The truth is, filing taxes will never be stress-free, but tax preparation can be less stress-inducing. Adding a little more proactivity and organization to the process can make a big difference. Here are a few helpful suggestions from CFTCU on how you can make tax season prep less taxing:

File Earlier, Not Later.

We’re not judging, but many of us wait until late winter/early spring to start tax prep (even though tax season began officially on January 1st). Experts recommend we file our tax returns as soon as all the relevant information is collected – remember those receipts and statements? – to complete the form. On the plus side, that’s the fastest way to get a refund. But even if there’s no refund and money is owed, filing early provides more time to plan and budget.

Have The Right Paperwork.

Remember Roz in “Monsters, Inc” and how she pestered Mike Wazowski for never having the correct paperwork? Well, when it comes to the IRS don’t be like Mike – have the right paperwork. That includes any W-2s, 1099s, and letters from the IRS about stimulus checks or child tax credit payments you might have received during the year. Did you trade stocks or cryptocurrencies? You’ll want that documentation handy, too.

Follow The Changes.

Did you know taxes are due April 18th this year? Or about the expanded child and dependent tax care credit which, if you’re planning on claiming, requires saved receipts for what you spent on child care last year (you may have received a letter from the IRS about this, which you saved…right?). To stay current with all the latest changes and updates to this year’s new tax changes, visit the IRS website.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help.

Accountants and tax consultants might be the only people who look forward to tax season. Hiring one could be a relief and a wise investment (at the very least you’ll get one more festive card this holiday season). They’ll compile all the necessary information, ensure your taxes are accurate and that you are claiming the benefits you’re eligible for. 

File Online.

The IRS is struggling to process paper returns and they’ve gone on record saying filing online is the fastest and easiest way to submit your information. With this in mind, Common Trust Federal Credit Union, in partnership with Love My Credit Union, is offering special member savings with TurboTax. Filing online with TurboTax, members can save up to $15 on federal products and are guaranteed to get their taxes done right and their maximum refund. To learn more, click here.

Tax Filing Tips For 2021

Tax season is upon us, and May 17th is approaching quickly. In 2020, many experienced unexpected lifestyle changes and financial hardships that may change how they file taxes this year. With that comes changes to qualifications and deductions for the 2020 tax filing year that may impact you. Here are some tips for filing your taxes. Also, see below for more information about Common Trust’s tax loan promotion.

1. New Gig Economy Workers: Report Your 2020 Income 

What is a gig economy worker? It consists of freelancers, on-call workers, online platform workers, contract firm workers, and temporary workers. If the pandemic caused you to transition for the first time into the gig economy, you should be aware of some guidelines that may apply to you. 

As taxes are not typically withheld from these types of gigs, you must report your income either at the end of the year or quarterly. The IRS recommends that anyone earning money without automatic withholding files quarterly estimated tax payments. Doing so will allow you to stay up to date on federal tax obligations that apply to your situation. 

There are many bonuses to being self-employed, and the amount of deductions you can claim on your tax return is one of them. Home office deductions and travel expenses are two great examples that may apply to gig economy workers. Check out this complete guide from TurboTax to learn more.

2. Home Office Deduction Qualifications

Speaking of home offices, the nationwide transition to working from home across countless industries snowballed the need for more home offices. If you were a part of this new working model, there are a few important tax implications that may apply to you. Those who qualify for a tax deduction are employers, business owners, and those who are self-employed. Due to the elimination of the itemized deduction for employee business expenses, the majority of employees working from home do not qualify. Despite this, some employees may still be eligible for it as a state tax reduction.

You might be asking, should I take the home office deduction if I am self-employed or will that raise a red flag? The short answer is, if you qualify, yes, you should take it! Since the pandemic, the rules have been made easier for those who work from home to qualify for this write-off. For a more in-depth overview of home office deductions and to find out if you qualify visit the TurboTax tips page.  

3. Generosity Pays Off With Charitable Donations Deductions

As part of the CARES Act effort to encourage charitable contributions to qualifying organizations, you are allowed to deduct up to 100% of your adjusted gross income. For those who don’t know, adjusted gross income is your total income minus any adjustments to your income that you qualify for.

The CARES Act added a new “above-the-line” deduction. If you ended up taking the standard deduction, you can now write off up to $300 of charitable donations that were made in cash. Good deeds can go a long way!

4. Check Up On Your Retirement Account Funds

Due to unexpected challenges in 2020, many people withdrew from their retirement funds in order to stay afloat financially last year. If you decided to dip into your retirement, be prepared to receive a considerable-sized tax bill. Luckily, the window for returning those funds is three years, which will help you get back on track with your savings. If you don’t plan to repay the sum you took out in three years, you will need to pay one-third of the tax upon submitting your 2020 return. 

5. Taxability of Unemployment Benefits 

The hardships of 2020 resulted in millions of Americans receiving unemployment for the first time. Since this type of benefit is taxable when filing your tax return, it must be included as gross income. If you elected to have federal taxes withheld from your unemployment benefits or elected to make estimated payments, the required taxes have already been taken out and paid. If you did not elect to withhold when filing your tax return, you should prepare to pay the taxes on those benefits. 

Of note, COVID-19 stimulus checks are not taxable, so you will not need to take that under consideration when filing your taxes this year. 

Special Offer: Tax Loan Promotion

Is a tax loan beneficial for you to start off this year? Up until May 17th, at Common Trust we are offering a tax loan promotion of up to $5,000. With rates as low as 9.99%* and a loan term of 12 months. Check out this offer, and get in touch if you believe it is the right fit for you. We’d love to speak with you and help provide all the information you need to get started. 

*Actual rates are subject to creditworthiness.

CTFCU Supporting Local Health Care as Platinum Sponsor of Step Out for Hospice

Common Trust Federal Credit Union has signed on as a Platinum Sponsor of the 21 st annual Step Out for Hospice, a benefit for VNA Hospice & Palliative Care on Sunday, Sept. 30, in Woburn

“We’re so grateful to Common Trust Federal Credit Union for their generous support of VNA Hospice & Palliative Care and their investment in the health of our communities through this sponsorship,” said Laura Wise, Manager of Fund Development.

“The VNA Hospice & Palliative Care play such a vital role in our communities and we’re happy to lend our support to such a great event,” said James McCorkle, President and CEO of Common Trust Federal Credit Union.

Step Out for Hospice raises essential funds to support the mission of VNA Hospice & Palliative Care. Established in 1979, the nonprofit provides comprehensive care and support to help individuals and their loved ones live as fully as possible while facing a terminal illness.

The 21 st annual Step Out for Hospice on Sunday, Sept. 30, begins at the Irish American Club of Woburn, 147 Main St. The free, 1-Mile Fun Run for children ages 13 and under starts at 11:30 a.m. Prizes and a limited number of T-shirts will be available for Fun Run participants. The 3-Mile Walk starts at noon, and 5-mile Road Race at 12:30 pm. Participants are invited to enjoy the post-walk/run festivities, including live music and dancing, chowder, hot dogs, popcorn, raffle, and silent auction.

Preregister now for the Walk or Road Race for a discounted fee of $30. Students may register for the Walk or Road Race for $15 (minimum age of 13 for the Road Race). Step Out for Hospice sweatshirts are guaranteed for Walk and Road Race entries received by Sept. 26. The Fun Run is free; preregistration is appreciated. To register, visit or call Deborah Corkum of VNA Hospice & Palliative Care at 888-663-3688, ext. 1362. Step Out for Hospice is presented by the Woburn Friends of VNA Hospice & Palliative Care, Irish American Club of Woburn, and Shamrock Running Club.

Photo: Members of the Woburn Friends of VNA Hospice & Palliative Care recently thanked Common Trust Federal Credit Union for their support as Platinum Sponsor of the 21st annual Step Out for Hospice. Back row, from left: Laura Wise, Manager of Fund Development for VNA Hospice & Palliative Care; Jamie Kelley, Co-Chair, and Robert Brown, Treasurer, both of the Woburn Friends of VNA Hospice & Palliative Care; and Frank Harmon, VP of Finance for Common Trust Federal Credit Union. Front row, from left: James M. McCorkle, President & CEO of Common Trust Federal Credit Union, and Brian Kelley, Co-Chair of the Woburn Friends.

Auto Loan Promotion

May 1st– June 30th

  • Rate as low as 2.49%* (with auto pay)
  • Terms up to 60 months (72 for 2018 models, 84 months for loans of $50,000 or greater)
  • The car must be 2017 or newer
  • Rate only good for new loans (cannot be used to refinance existing Common Trust FCU Loans)

*Member must qualify for the rate (a counter offer could be made)

New Spring Promotions!

Common Trust Federal Credit Union is excited to announce three new promotions being offered from April 1st to May 31st.

The details and restrictions for each promotion are as follows:


Youth Account Promotion

April 1st – May 31st

Teach your children the value of saving at a young age. Open a youth account and be entered into a raffle to win a new bike!


  • Must be ages 6 – 15.
  • Child must be a student at Woburn Public Schools OR has a relative that is a current CTFCU member.


Debt Consolidation Loan

April 1st – May 31st

  • Rate as low 10.49%*
  • Term is up to 48 months
  • Maximum loan amount is $7,500
  • Credit Union must pay off existing debt
  • Money can’t be used to pay-off existing debt at Common Trust Federal Credit Union
  • *Member must qualify for rate (counter offer can be made)


Credit Builder Loan

April 1st – May 31st

  • Rate as low 8%*
  • Term is up to 9 months
  • Maximum loan amount is $500
  • *Member can’t have past credit or credit score

Follow Us on Social Media

We are happy to announce that Woburn Federal Credit Union now has various accounts on social media!

Be sure to follow us in order to stay updated on news, event and other important information from CTFCU!





CTFCU Funds Woburn Students to Attend DECA State Conference

Three local 10th grade students from the Woburn Memorial High School are heading to the statewide DECA competition thanks to two generous donations by CTFCU. There they will have the opportunity to develop business strategies and compete to win various awards.

DECA is an international organization that prepares students to become emerging leaders in various business careers through competitive events, professional development, and leadership conferences. These events empower students to exercise their soft skills as well as their critical thinking and creativity.

DECA’s High School Division includes 200,000 members in 3,500 schools. Jennifer Keenan, a teacher at Woburn Memorial High School, wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for her students to participate in this program. With the help of an initial donation from CTFCU, Keenan could begin the first DECA chapter in Woburn with six of her top 10th grade students.

The students seen (Anthony Colombo, John Kyle, Ashley Danizio, Sierra Bazzarella, Kelsey Doherty, Zachary Willis) attended their first DECA conference in December 2017. They competed against district 4 towns including Andover, Bedford, Burlington, Greater Lawrence Tech, Natick, Needham, Newton North, Newton South, Rivers School, Somerville, Weston, and Wilmington.

After their first-time success at the district conference, Woburn will move on to the state competition on March 8th to March 10th at the Copley Marriott in Boston. Teams were required to raise $2,500 to participate in the next round of events. On February 14th, James McCorkle, president of CTFCU, and Frank Harmon, VP of Finance, visited the high school and presented the students a check for the full amount.

“We are happy to support the inaugural DECA Program at Woburn Memorial High School. The success that these students achieved at the district competition is a testament to the hard work they and Mrs. Keenan have put in to starting this program,” Says McCorkle. “We look forward to continuing to support this and other programs that help high school students prepare as they move on and we wish the Woburn Memorial High School DECA team best of luck in the upcoming State Competition.”

The extraordinary support from Common Trust Federal Credit Union allows three Woburn students (Anthony Colombo, John Kyle, Zachary Willis) to attend the next event filled with leadership activities, competitions, and entertainment. With approximately 175 community and business volunteers judging the competitors, students will have the opportunity to win several accolades as well as further advance to the International Career Development Conference.

Article Featured on Woburn’s Wicked Local

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