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AMBA Honors Raleigh A. “Andy” Trovillion with Scholarship to GSB-Wisconsin

Madison, Wis. and Washington, D.C. — The Association of Military Banks of America (AMBA) has established a scholarship to the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to honor Raleigh A. “Andy” Trovillion. Trovillion, a long-time former GSB faculty member and Association of Military Banks of America (AMBA) board chairman, passed away in 2019 after a distinguished career in banking. 

“AMBA is honored to sponsor this scholarship that combines Andy’s passions for banking and support of our nation’s military.  As a long-time AMBA director and past chairman, he energized us to do what we could to ensure military families received the financial education, products, and services they earned through their service and sacrifice.  We miss him dearly and believe he would be humbled by this legacy.  Through this scholarship in his name, we hope to enable and inspire future generations of veterans and military spouses who have chosen banking as their profession to continue Andy’s work,” said Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Steven J. Lepper, president and CEO, Association of Military Banks of America (AMBA).

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Visit Graduate School of Banking – Wisconsin for more information.

Banking in the Time of Coronavirus

As Americans find new ways of getting things done while confined to their homes, mobile and online banking may be on their minds now more than ever.  Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a 2017 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)  study found that 73.6% banked households visited banks to access their accounts in the previous 12 months.  Despite the trend toward mobile and online banking over the past two decades, many Americans still feel more comfortable using personal bank teller services.   COVID-19 has changed that, at least in the short-term.  It remains to be seen whether the pandemic and our efforts to mitigate its spread will forever change how we get things done – including banking – once the virus goes away. 

The FDIC created a great page on their website to address this unique situation and help Americans find banking options that may work better for them.  It offers tips, information, and lists of banks — members of the BankOn program, the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America — that offer remote account openings.  Because military families also face unique financial challenges during this crisis, we’re proud that many AMBA member banks also offer online banking and are on these lists.

Finally, to help veterans find financial institutions familiar with their financial needs, AMBA partnered with the Veterans Benefits Administration to establish the Veterans Benefits Banking Program.   The program’s participating banks and credit unions offer veterans and their families safe, reliable, flexible, and less expensive ways to receive and manage their VA monetary benefits.  Visit www.veteransbenefitsbanking.org for more information.

CARES ACT BENEFITS FOR VETERAN AND MILITARY FAMILIES

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Many veteran and military families are suffering financially right now due to losses of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this background paper is to describe financial benefits available to those families included in the federal CARES Act. The objective is to convince families that, because funds to fill their financial gaps have strings and costs attached, they should not dig a financial hole they can’t climb out of at the end of this crisis.

By far, the “cheapest” source of funds is the free money federal and state governments are providing under the Federal CARES Act. These funds are intended to provide both direct and indirect relief to Americans who need to close the gap between income and expenses. For many, COVID-19 made that gap wider.

For the purposes of this discussion, we group CARES Act benefits into four individual “buckets:” direct income relief, indirect income relief, direct expense relief, and indirect expense relief.

Direct Income Relief: In the direct income relief bucket, a couple of CARES Act programs are intended to directly replace income Americans lost as a result of being furloughed or losing their jobs.

  • Direct payments to Americans: All Americans with income below certain thresholds will get an automatic and immediate tax rebate.
    • Single taxpayers: Single taxpayers whose Adjusted Gross Income is less than $75,000 will receive $1,200, to be phased out for AGI over $75,000 up to $99,000. No payments are available to single taxpayers whose AGI exceeds $99,000.
    • Married taxpayers: Married taxpayers whose AGI is less than $150,000 will receive $2,400, to be phased out for AGI over $150,000 up to $198,000. No payments are available to married taxpayers whose AGI exceeds $198,000.
    • Dependents: Americans eligible for the Child Tax Credit are also eligible to receive $500 per dependent.
    • Checks or direct deposits will be made automatically. If you filed a 2018 tax return last year or a 2019 tax return this year and are eligible, this money will be sent to you automatically.
  • Enhanced unemployment payments: Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the Federal Government will augment State unemployment insurance by $600 per week for a maximum period of 39 weeks. The law expands unemployment insurance qualification to Americans who lost their income – but didn’t necessarily lose their jobs – as a result of COVID-19. This includes parents who can’t work because they’re taking care of children whose daycare or school closed as a result of the virus.

Indirect Income Relief: In addition to money to be provided by the CARES Act directly to Americans, the Act includes programs that indirectly provide financial relief to Americans.

  • SBA Paycheck Protection Program: Under the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, small businesses can apply for loans that will enable them to continue paying their employees. To the extent that they use the money for that purpose, the loans will be forgiven. This is free money for small businesses as long as they use it to pay their employees. If you work for a small business, talk to your employer about taking advantage of this program. If you are an independent contractor or are self-employed, you are also eligible for this program; however, your application period won’t start until Friday, 10 April.
  • Borrowing against retirement accounts: The CARES Act also allows Americans with retirement accounts to borrow against them without paying the 10% tax penalty that applies when they are under 59 1/2 years old. Be careful about this benefit because, unlike the programs we’ve already described, there are costs and strings attached. First, the withdrawals are taxable – the tax is payable over a three-year period. Second, taking money out of a retirement account means you’ll lose its tax-deferred growth during the withdrawal period. Third, if you borrow from a retirement account, be sure to return the money when your financial situation stabilizes. The law gives you a three-year period to do that.

Direct Expense Relief: Americans can also close the gap between income and expenses by reducing their expenses. There are CARES Act programs designed to do that directly.

  • Tax filing deferral: If you think you will get a refund, file now! If you think you’ll owe money, you can defer that expense until July 15.
  • Student loan deferrals: Under the CARES Act, payments on federal student loans – including direct loans, Perkins loans, and Federal Family Education Loans – are automatically suspended from March 13 through September 30, 2020. That means eligible federal loan borrowers do not have to make payments. While loan payments are suspended, interest will not accrue.
  • Mortgage forbearance and foreclosure moratorium: The CARES Act provides that lenders and servicers of federally-backed mortgages – including VA mortgages – may not foreclose on mortgages for 60 days starting on 18 March 2020. Borrowers with federally-backed mortgages may also request forbearance – that is, nonpayment of the mortgage – for up to 180 days. To qualify for this relief borrowers must contact their loan servicers. There are no penalties associated with this benefit; the mortgage lender may not add fees, penalties, or additional interest to your account. Contact your mortgage company for more information.

Indirect Expense Relief:

  • RMD Relief: Finally, if you’re older than 72 (or if you attained the age 70½ before 2020), the CARES Act allows you to suspend your 2020 Required Minimum Distributions from your retirement accounts. This is expense relief for retirees because it allows them to avoid having to pay the tax on money they withdraw from their retirement accounts. It also helps them avoid liquidating investments in those accounts while investment values are depressed as a result of falling stock and bond markets.

These CARES Act programs are available to help veterans and military families deal with this unprecedented crisis. For more information, please consult your base Personal Financial Managers or the banks or credit unions on your installations. AMBA is proud that our member banks serving on military installations remain open and available to all our military families.

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DoD Offers Guidance for COVID-19 Response for Military Personnel

DoD offers Q & A to help answer questions regarding the COVID-19 stop movement, special allowances, Basic Allowance for Subsistance (BAS), Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Family Separation Housing Allowance (FSH), work schedules. telework options, DODEA schools, and more. Click on the links below for more information and to view the Q & A and the memo released by DoD on March 26, 2020.

COVID-19 Q & A

Military Personnel Guidance for DoD Components in Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 – Memo

Coronavirus: DoD Response

COVID-19 Information via Military OneSource

Department of Defense creates new pay authority amid COVID-19 crisis

The Department created a new pay authority called “Hardship Duty Pay – Restriction of Movement”, or HDP-ROM, that allows Services to pay up to an additional $1500/month (prorated per day) for members and their families who are impacted during PCS or have to acquire temporary lodging that goes beyond normal TLE limit (which is 14 days) because of COVID-19. 

View the memo