As a community bank, we believe it’s our responsibility to do all we can as your trusted financial advisor to support our customers during times of financial hardship. If your financial situation has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, we may have options available to you. Click for more details on:

December 2020 Economic Impact Payments (EIP)

Starting in late December, most Americans will receive a second Economic Impact Payment (EIP) from the federal government as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. Direct deposit payments may arrive as early as December 29 and will continue to be distributed into the week of January 4. Paper checks will start to be mailed on December 30. Please review the below links and information from the Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA) for more details.
How much money will those eligible receive?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) database will be used to determine routing and bank account numbers for qualified individuals. Per the signed legislation. the full credit amount is $600 per individual, $1,200 per couple, and $600 for dependent children under the age of 17.

It is available for individuals with annual gross income (AGI) at or below $75,000 ($112,500 for heads of household), and couples with AGI at or below $150,000. If you have children, you will receive an additional $600 per child. For those above this income level, the amount will be reduced by $5 for each $100 your AGI exceeds the above thresholds.

This means:
  • An individual without children will not receive any EIP funds if their AGI exceeds $87,000.
  • A couple without children will not receive any EIP funds if their AGI exceeds $174,000.
  • A family of four will not receive any EIP funds if their AGI exceeds $198,000.
Are deceased persons eligible for Economic Impact Payments?
The legislation only excludes persons who passed away prior to January 1, 2020 from being eligible to receive a payment. The IRS is determining eligibility for all payments before they will be sent to customer bank accounts.

I updated my bank account and routing information through the IRS portal earlier this year. Will the IRS use this information?
The IRS will use the most recent direct deposit account information that it has on file to issue payments via direct deposit.

I changed bank accounts and/or closed my account since the first Economic Impact Payments were dispersed. Will I have an opportunity to provide new account information to the government before the new payments are originated?
With the second round of Economic Impact Payments due to begin in the coming days, there will not be enough time to provide updated account information to the IRS. Individuals who closed their account or changed financial institutions will receive the payment via another method, such as a paper check.

I want to know if my EIP has been sent. How can I check on it?
You can set up alerts through Merchants Bank Online & Mobile Banking to be notified when a new deposit is available in your account. Learn how to set up alerts by watching the Alerts video in our Education Center.

What can I do to prevent fraudsters from accessing my funds?
A large amount of funds will be disbursed in the coming weeks to qualifying individuals. Accordingly, there is a risk for fraud of various types. The IRS has announced various ways individuals can be on guard against fraudulent activities. See the notice. 

It is important to remember that banks or the federal government will never contact you by telephone, text or email asking for your account information. Do not provide any banking information to anyone claiming to be “registering you for your relief payment.” This is a red flag. 

For security reasons, the IRS plans to mail letters about Economic Impact Payments to taxpayers’ last known address after the EIP is sent. The letter will provide information on how the payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment. If you are unsure you are receiving a legitimate letter, the IRS urges you to visit IRS.gov to protect yourself against fraudsters. 

What should I do if I receive an unsolicited email or text appearing to be from the IRS?
Those who receive unsolicited emails, text messages or social media contacts attempting to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should forward them to phishing@irs.gov.

Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential fraudsters online or on the phone. Learn more about reporting suspected scams by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov.

 

Source: Independent Community Bankers Association 

April 2020 Economic Impact Payments (EIP)

In April most Americans will receive a stimulus check from the federal government. The ICBA has provided member banks with details to help educate our clients:

How will qualified individuals receive their payment?
  • The plan is for the Treasury to issue as many of these payments electronically as possible. It is estimated that 85% percent (or 128 million payments) will be sent as ACH payments.
  • The IRS database will be used to determine bank account information for qualified individuals (bank account number and bank routing number). If a taxpayer has not yet filed a return for tax year 2019, the IRS will use the 2018 return for both payment calculation and direct deposit information.
  • Treasury has indicated that a website will be set-up for people to provide their bank routing number and account number if the government doesn’t already have that information. This website will be available in the coming weeks.
What about some social security recipients who may not typically file a tax return?
The Treasury announced on April 1, that social security recipients who do not typically file a tax return do not need to take any action. Their stimulus payments will be deposited directly to their bank account. 

Alert: Be aware of scammers related to your stimulus payments. The Federal Government will not text you, call you, email you or direct you to a website asking you for personal information in order to claim your payment. Do not click on links in emails or texts asking to verify personal information. Be alert to coronavirus scams.

Update 5/8/20: IRS Guidance Regarding Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus Payments) Issued to Deceased, Aliens, and Incarcerated Persons

On May 6, 2020, the IRS provided the following guidance regarding how to handle stimulus payments made to deceased people, resident aliens and those who are incarcerated.

The new guidance states that deceased people do not qualify for a payment. Therefore, the recipient is responsible for returning the funds to the IRS.

If the payment was a paper check, and the check has not been cashed:

  1. Write "Void" in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  2. Mail the voided Treasury check immediately to the appropriate IRS location.

    For Minnesota residents, the address is:
    Kansas City Refund Inquiry Unit
    333 W Pershing Rd
    Mail Stop 6800, N-2
    Kansas City, MO 64108

    For Wisconsin residents, the address is:
    Fresno Refund Inquiry Unit
    5045 E Butler Avenue
    Mail Stop B2007
    Fresno, CA 93888
  3. Include a note stating the reason for returning the check.
  4. Do not staple, bend, or paper clip the check.

If the payment was made by ACH or was a paper check that has already been cashed:

  1. Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location.
  2. Make the check/money order payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP with the taxpayer identification number (social security number or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.
  3. Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the EIP.
Recipients should return the entire payment unless it was made to joint filers and one spouse had not died before receipt of the payment. In that case, the spouse must only return the portion made to the decedent. This amount will be $1,200 unless adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000. 

A person who is a non-resident alien in 2020 is not eligible for the payment. A person who is a qualifying resident alien with a valid SSN is eligible only if he or she is a qualifying resident alien in 2020 and could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer for 2020. Aliens who received a payment but are not qualifying resident aliens for 2020 should return the payment to the IRS.

A payment made to someone who is incarcerated should also be returned to the IRS. For a payment made with respect to a joint return where only one spouse is incarcerated, the spouse must return the portion of the payment made to the incarcerated spouse. This amount will be $1,200 unless adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000.

For more information, visit the IRS website.

Source: Minnesota Bankers Association

Loan Payment Assistance

We are happy to discuss concerns you may have about your loan payments on a case-by-case basis. As your local community bank, we also work with many community foundations in the markets we serve that may have resources available for community members during this time.

We are happy to share all information we have with you. Give your local branch a call or our Loan Servicing Department at (800) 765-2194.


Mortgage Forbearance Information


What is mortgage forbearance?
Mortgage forbearance is a plan that allows qualified applicants to either reduce or pause their mortgage payments for a period of time.
 
Is applying for mortgage forbearance right for me?
Maybe, it depends on your situation. There may also be other options available if you find yourself in financial hardship and unable to make your mortgage payment.

If you have been negatively impacted financially due to illness, loss of income or employment because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are unable to make your mortgage payment we are happy to visit with you about your particular situation.

What you should know before applying.
Before applying for mortgage forbearance, please be aware of the following:
  • If you qualify for a forbearance plan, you may be able to stop making your monthly mortgage payment for up to three months.
  • During the forbearance period, you will not be assessed any late charges.
  • During the forbearance period, late payments will not be reported on your credit report.
  • Forbearance does NOT erase the amount you owe on your mortgage.   
  • A bank representative will reach out to you before the forbearance ends to discuss a permanent payment option and solution.
  • We recommend you continue to make your regularly scheduled mortgage payments (or partial payments) until you find out if you qualify for mortgage forbearance. 
  • If you are more than 7 days past due on your mortgage payment you will receive a Delinquent Mortgage Notice in the mail, even if you have already contacted us to apply for or have been approved for mortgage forbearance. This notice generates automatically. You may disregard the notice during the forbearance period. If you are concerned, feel free to contact us at 800-765-2194.
If you are granted a mortgage forbearance, you are not required to make your monthly mortgage payment during the forbearance period. That being said, making even partial payments would still be in your best interest as it would reduce the amount outstanding at the end of the forbearance period.
 
To learn more about forbearance and whether it is an option for you, please call (888) 729-0499 to visit with a Merchant Bank representative, or complete the following form and Merchants Bank representative will contact you.



Retirement/HSA Account Updates

The CARE Act has made some adjustments to specific types of accounts:
  • The deadline for 2019 tax year contributions to your Health Savings Account (HSA) or Individual Retirement Account (IRA) has been extended to July 15, 2020 due to the tax filing deadline extension.
  • Certain Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) have been waived for 2020. If you normally would have been required to take a distribution from your IRA or qualified retirement plan for tax year 2020, you may not be required to do so this year. The CARES Act has waived this requirement for IRAs and certain qualified plans.
Contact your local branch if you have questions regarding these specific accounts. Please consult your tax advisor if you have tax-related questions.

Additional Resources