Remember – Federal Income Tax Deadline Moved to May 17

As the traditional federal income tax filing due date approaches, please know that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year was automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17.

Individual taxpayers can also postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This applies to individual taxpayers, including individuals who pay self-employment tax. Penalties, interest and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by May 17.

Individual taxpayers do not need to file any forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief. Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request a filing extension until Oct. 15 by filing Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Filing Form 4868 gives taxpayers until October 15 to file their 2020 tax return but does not grant an extension of time to pay taxes due. Taxpayers should pay their federal income tax due by May 17, 2021, to avoid interest and penalties.

The IRS urges taxpayers who are due a refund to file as soon as possible. Most tax refunds associated with e-filed returns are issued within 21 days.

Please note that this relief does not apply to estimated tax payments that are due on April 15, 2021. These payments are still due on April 15. Taxes must be paid as taxpayers earn or receive income during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments. In general, estimated tax payments are made quarterly to the IRS by people whose income isn’t subject to income tax withholding, including self-employment income, interest, dividends, alimony or rental income. Most taxpayers automatically have their taxes withheld from their paychecks and submitted to the IRS by their employer.

State tax returns

The federal tax filing deadline postponement to May 17, 2021, only applies to individual federal income returns and tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2021, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax. Taxpayers also will need to file income tax returns in 42 states plus the District of Columbia. State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline. Both Minnesota and North Dakota have moved their respective deadlines to May 17 to match the federal date.

IRS.gov. (2021). Tax Day for individuals extended to May 17: Treasury, IRS extend filing and payment deadline. March 17, 2021.

 

Government Imposter Scams – Protect Yourself!

The ABA Foundation and the Federal Trade Commission recently released a new infographic highlighting the problem of government impostor scams in which scammers contact consumers often claiming that back taxes are owed, that jury duty was missed, or some other transgression, and threaten victims with jail time or fines. Some scammers claim that benefits such as Social Security or Medicare are being withheld for some reason or another in an attempt to trick victims into clicking on a link or handing over personal information.

The infographic below offers tips on how to spot the scam, as well as how to stop and report it. You can also download a printable copy by clicking here.

Government Imposter Scams infographic

Be on the Lookout for Utility-Related Scams

In response to the recent winter storms that have caused utility outages in the United States, the FTC is warning people to be aware of utility and weather-related scams.

If a scammer knows that electricity has been shut off in an area, they might call and offer you reimbursement for the time you were without power. However, they’ll claim to need your bank account number or other personal information in order to get you the money. Likewise, if your utility is still currently off, a scammer might claim to be able to restore service, but only if you send them money immediately.

If you are contacted by a suspected scammer, the FTC recommends:

  • Never call a number left in a voicemail, text or email. Instead, call the utility company directly using the number on the company’s website or your bill and verify if the message came from them.
  • Never give your banking information over the phone on an unknown number. Only pay your bills over the phone when you initiated the call to a number you know is legitimate.
  • If a caller insists that you pay with a gift card, cash reload card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency, it’s a scam.

Always be aware that scammers are continually looking to exploit any current situation in order to get your money, and bad weather is no exception. To report any scams you see, visit reportfraud.ftc.gov.

American Federal Employees Earn ‘Sales Star’ Recognition

Nineteen American Federal Bankers and employees have earned ‘Sales Star’ recognition from American Federal Bank for outstanding sales and sales referral performance in 2020.

A “Sales Star” is the highest honor of recognition an employee can earn at American Federal. American Federal’s 2020 Sales Stars are:

  • Cindy Ackley, Senior Associate, Moorhead
  • Betty Amundson, Associate, East Grand Forks
  • Adam Braunberger, Business Banker, Fargo Downtown
  • Ryan Bohnsack, Ag/Business Banker, Fargo South
  • Mark Eifert, Market President, Fergus Falls
  • Chris Grettum, Personal Banker, Fargo Downtown
  • Brooke Hassel, Associate Banker, Crookston
  • Nikki Hatzenbeller, Loan Origination Service Manager, Fargo Home Office
  • Jason Jaeger, Business Banker, Fargo Downtown
  • Justin Marquis, Ag/Business Banker, Fosston
  • Pat McShane, Market President, Fargo Downtown
  • Dustin Morris, Ag/Business Banker, Fergus Falls
  • Becky Myhra, Senior Associate, Wahpeton
  • Tiffany Ness, Loan Processor, Fargo Home Office
  • Brian Olson, Ag/Business Banker, Moorhead
  • Ryan Paulson, Ag/Business Banker, Fosston
  • Dan Paulson, Market President, Fosston
  • Alison Perez, Personal Banker, Grand Forks
  • Patrick Stadum, Associate Banker, Fargo Downtown

In recognition of their achievement, American Federal “Sales Star” employees and their families are traditionally invited to attend a weekend Sales Star Retreat, training seminar and awards banquet in their honor. However, due to the COVID-19 situation, this year a virtual event was held on Friday, January 29 to honor their accomplishments.

Brian and Chrissa Frisk Join American Federal Bank

American Federal Bank in Crookston is pleased to welcome new employees Ag and Business Banker Brian D. Frisk and Ag and Business Banking Analyst Chrissa R. Frisk.

The Frisks have extensive careers in ag lending.

Brian has been a Loan Officer and Vice President at AgCountry since 1996. Before AgCountry, he sold grain bins and drying equipment for the Custom Marketing Company in Fargo.

Brian is a native of Crookston and a graduate of Crookston High School. He earned a Marketing Degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Brian is a member of the Lions Club in Crookston and has served in several leadership capacities with the service organization.

Chrissa started in the Accounting Department at AgCounty in 2009 and most recently was a Loan Officer and Assistant Vice President. She also has several years of banking experience at the former Crookston National Bank, now Northern Sky Bank.

Chrissa earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Psychology from Chadron State College, Chadron, Nebraska, and an Associate’s Degree in Sociology from Western Wyoming Community College, Rock Springs, Wyoming. She is a native of Newcastle, Wyoming and graduated from Newcastle High School.

Brian Frisk
Chrissa Frisk

Financial Goals for the New Year

The new year is a perfect time for a fresh look at your financial goals!

Here are some tips to help get you started:

  • Review your Current Situation.  Before you get started revising or setting new goals for the new year, it is important that you take some time to assess where you are now. Look through your debt, savings and investments to prioritize where you should put your focus to make the biggest impact.
  • Establish an Emergency Fund (aka Rainy-Day Fund).  One of the most important financial goals is establishing an emergency fund to ensure you can cover unexpected financial obstacles down the road. Whether it is a broken water heater or a job loss – you should strive to have enough in your savings to cover at least three months of expenses.
  • Pay Off Debt.  Debt can get in the way of achieving financial goals, so a good resolution may be to pay off debt this new year. This will help you pay less in interest and put that money towards other savings and financial goals.
  • Set a Budget (and Stick with It).  Setting a budget is crucial to following through on financial goals. Start by adding up all your income, subtracting necessary expenses and determining how much you want to save each month. Your budget should be achievable and maintainable to be successful.
  • Plan for Retirement.  Take time to look at your retirement plan. Identify all your potential sources of income and expenses, including medical costs, you can expect when you retire and calculate how much you will need to maintain your current lifestyle.  Take advantage of any retirement plan match your employer offers.  Try to increase your contribution each year.
  • Commit to “No-Spend” Days.  Commit to one or two days a month where no money leaves your bank account. Get savvy and find fun ways to spend absolutely nothing.  Cook your meals, go old school with board games for entertainment, or read a good book. Find a new hobby that costs you almost absolutely nothing.
  • Meet with a Financial Professional.  A wise goal for the upcoming year is to work with a knowledgeable and experienced financial professional who can advise you on your financial goals. An American Federal Banker can help you create an action plan for your goals and help you make informed financial decisions.

Holiday Tips from the Federal Trade Commission

Keep your holiday shopping merry and bright with an early gift from the Federal Trade Commission: tips to help you watch your wallet, shop wisely and protect your personal information.

  • Make a list and a budget.  Impulse purchases are less tempting when you have a game plan. Consider how much you are willing to put on your credit card, and how long it might take to pay it off.  If money is tight, paying for a gift over time through layaway might help.
  • Do your research. Read reviews and recommendations about the product, seller, and warranties from sources you trust.  If you are shopping online, check for reports that items were never delivered or not as advertised.
  • Look for the best deals. Check out reputable websites that compare prices for items online and at your local stores. Remember, there may be shipping costs for online orders.  Look for coupon codes by searching the store’s name with terms like “coupons,” “discounts,” or “free shipping.” To save extra money, keep an eye out for rebates.
  • Keep track of purchases. Make sure the scanned price is right, and save all your receipts. If you shop online, keep copies of your order or confirmation number, the refund and return policies, and shipping costs. Have packages delivered to a secure location or pick them up at a local store.
  • Give gifts, not personal information. Protect yourself online by shopping only on secure websites with an “https” address. Stick to shopping apps that tell you what they do with your data and how they keep it secure.  Avoid holiday offers that ask you to give financial information – no matter how tempting. They might be trying to steal your identity.

Watch for Cyber Crime

Cybercriminals are holiday shopping, too, looking for people to scam out of their money. Here are some tips to help you outsmart those bah-humbug scammers and donate safely.

  • Online shopping? Pay by credit card. Credit cards give you extra protection for most online purchases. And many cards offer benefits, like protection for returns and purchases. If unauthorized charges pop up on your statement, you will be able to dispute the charges. Credit card protections can vary, so check with your issuer to understand all of your card’s protections. American Federal offers competitive credit cards with rewards options.
  • Buy gift cards for gifts, not for payments. Gift cards are a great holiday gift; however, they also are a scammer’s favorite way to steal your money. Anyone who contacts you and demands that you pay them with a gift card, for any reason, is always a scammer. Report gift card scams directly with the card issuer and then report it to the FTC at gov/complaint. Learn even more at ftc.gov/giftcards.  If you buy gift cards, treat them like cash and keep them in safe place.
  • Research charities before you donate. With the generous spirit of the holidays, and with year-end fundraising, ’tis the season for donations. Make sure your donation goes where you want it to, not into the hands of a scammer. Before you spread holiday cheer by donating to a charity or a crowdfunding cause, look into it first to make sure it is legitimate.  If someone calls, asking you to give to a charity, do not let them rush you into making a donation. Instead, research the charity to make sure your donation counts.  Visit ftc.gov/charity to learn more.

Wishing you happy and safe holidays from American Federal Bank.

American Federal Is a Top Ag Lender

Fargo Moorhead and West Fargo Bankers in a Wheat Field

American Federal is again ranked a “Top 100 Ag Lender” by the American Banker Association (ABA).

Each quarter, the ABA ranks financial institutions across America based on ag loan volume and concentration.

American Federal has been listed as a leading farm lender in the United States by the ABA for several years in the current and the last decades.

When American Federal opened its doors for business in 1891 as a neighborhood financial association in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, it was at the heart of agriculture productivity in the Red River Valley.

During the past 129 years, that deep connection with the land and the region’s farmers and ranchers has only grown. A testimonial to that growth and our trusted relationships with our clients comes in the form of American Federal being recognized as a Top Ag Lender in the United States.

Throughout the decades, in good times and throughout challenging times, we have worked with farm owners and producers to help them be successful and achieve their goals. During the first and second rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program this year, American Federal submitted applications for 665 small businesses and farmers, totaling $45 million in loan assistance for our clients, and received funding from the Small Business Administration for 100 percent of the applicants.

Small Business Saturday: Buy Local

November 28 is Small Business Saturday.

When you shop local, you get the benefit of making purchases quickly and conveniently.  And, buying locally keeps money in our community.

Community Health

According to the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, and Society, researchers in the U.S. found that counties with a higher volume of local businesses actually had a lower rate of mortality, obesity and diabetes.

Buying local reaches beyond better health and promotes local prosperity.  Researchers found for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city.

Benefit the Local Economy

When you buy locally, the small business you patronize benefits.  And the benefits spread throughout the community.

A small business that is successful is likely to hire more workers and their payroll earnings are spent in the community.  Businesses pay local taxes that help the schools, charities, and road and infrastructure projects that residents benefit from.

Unique Experience

Small businesses typically have a unique offering that can produce a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.  A local business understands their customers’ needs because they take the time to build a relationship with their clients.  Local businesses often can be flexible and are able to quickly adjust to customer situations.

American Federal Salutes Small Businesses

American Federal Bank salutes small businesses who are the backbone and spirit of our region’s economy.  They grow their business, create jobs and ensure our communities remain vibrant.

Small businesses are the reason American Federal Bank was founded back in 1891.  We wanted to help main street businesses with their credit and deposit goals so they could be successful.

“American Federal is a small business in its own right.  We are an employee-owned community bank headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, with 13 Sales Offices up and down the Red River Valley and the Lakes Region of northwestern Minnesota.  This gives our Bankers a unique bond with their small business customers, and allows them to provide trusted advice and local decision making,” said Pat McShane, Fargo Downtown Market President.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, American Federal has helped more than 665 small businesses and farms with $45 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

Buying local is a win-win for customers, for small businesses and for the community.

 

American Federal Joins Banking Association in Anti-Phishing Campaign

American Federal Bank has joined the American Bankers Association (ABA) and banks across the nation in launching an industry-wide campaign to educate consumers about the persistent threat of phishing scams during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that consumers lost $1.9 billion to phishing schemes in 2019 and the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has increased the threat.

To combat phishing, the ABA’s “#BanksNeverAskThat” campaign uses humor and engaging print, digital and video content to empower consumers to identify bogus bank communications asking for sensitive information like their passwords and social security numbers. Because cybersecurity education and fraud awareness can often be dull and forgettable to some consumers, the campaign is designed to be bright and bold.

“This campaign is an effort by the banking industry to address a growing threat to our customers,” said Kent Anderson, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, American Federal Bank.

For more information about phishing scams and how to stop fraudsters in their tracks, visit www.BanksNeverAskThat.com.

ABA Sweepstakes**

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a collaborative effort between government and industry that raises nationwide awareness of cyber crimes and prevention every October. Because it coincides with the launch of #BanksNeverAskThat, the ABA is celebrating with a cybersecurity-month sweepstakes.

Every week during the month of October, site visitors can test their scam savviness by taking the #BanksNeverAskThat Quiz, then sharing it on Twitter for the chance to win one of 15 gift cards. All entrants in ABA’s sweepstakes also will be eligible to win the $1,000 grand prize at the end of the month.

Take the #BanksNeverAskThat Quiz during the month of October at www.BanksNeverAskThat.com.

PRO Tips

The #BanksNeverAskThat campaign focuses on phishing scams in the form of emails, texts and phone calls from cyber criminals pretending to be a bank.

Here are some consumer tips that highlight common phishing schemes:

Be wary of suspicious links and attachments. Banks will never ask you to sign in, or give personal info via email or text message. Bank will never send you a text or email that asks you to click a link, open an attachment or provide personal information. Links in phishing messages direct you to fraudulent websites. Do not reply to the sender. Ignore any requests from the sender and do not call any phone numbers provided in the message. Delete the text and trash the email. Do not download any attachments in the message. Attachments may contain malware such as viruses, worms or spyware.

Beware of scare tactics. Scam emails, texts and calls may pressure, or even threaten you, to respond. Just ignore it, and call your bank directly.

Protect your confidential information. Your bank will never ask you to provide confidential information (your account number, social security number, date of birth, name, address, password, etc.) in emails or text messages. Your bank will only ask for confidential information to verify your identity when you call them.

Be leery of callers. If you don’t expect a call from a bank, it could be a scam. Be aware that area codes can be misleading. If your Caller ID displays a local area code, this does not guarantee that the caller is local. If you think a call, email or text might be a scam, play it safe. Don’t provide any personal information. You may be asked to verify confidential information, if you call your bank, but never the other way around. If you receive an incoming call from someone claiming to be your bank, the safest thing you can do is hang up and call your bank yourself. Never respond to the caller’s requests. Banks and legitimate companies will never call you to request your personal information. Never give personal information to an incoming caller.

Watch for misspelled words. Fraudulent texts and emails often have typos or improper grammar.

Report it. If you feel you have been the victim of a scam and may have provided personal or important financial information, contact your bank immediately. Be sure to include any relevant details, such as whether the suspicious caller attempted to impersonate your bank and whether any personal or financial information was provided to the suspicious caller. Help fight scammers by also reporting them to officials. Report a phishing attack to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

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** Drawing prizes given in form of prepaid card. Terms and conditions apply. Void where prohibited. See official rules at www.BanksNeverAsThat.com.