CFO Alex Sink photo

Volume 4 Number 12
March 23, 2007

Dear Floridian:

Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson and I would like to extend an invitation to you to attend the first of a series of workshops on “Conversations on Climate Change.” This workshop will be held on Tuesday, April 3, 2007, at 11:00 a.m. after the Florida Cabinet meeting.   

This workshop will feature national experts in areas such as the science of rising sea levels, renewable energy sources, the impact of climate change on the insurance and financial industries, and more.  The sessions will also give elected officials, business leaders and Floridians the opportunity to understand how these challenges and potential solutions present opportunities for the growth of new industries in our state.

We hope you can join us, as we begin this important dialogue to make more informed decisions about Florida’s future.

Guest speakers for the April 3rd conversation will include:

Governor Charlie Crist, Senator Burt Saunders, Dr. Meg Lowman, Dr. Stephen Mulkey, Dr. Stephen Leatherman, Karry Emmanuel, Tim Wagner, Dan Reicher and Keith Allan.

 Sincerely,

Alex Sink


 


 

Vanguard Fire & Casualty ordered into liquidation

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry P. Lewis has ordered Maitland-based Vanguard Fire & Casualty Company into liquidation, effective Monday, to ensure policyholder claims continue to be paid.  The Department of Financial Services was named receiver in January for purposes of rehabilitation and has paid more than $6 million in claims using company assets, but has determined the company’s cash and reserves are not enough to keep up with claims. 

The department has a request pending in the same court asking for permission to allow the company’s approximately 57,000 homeowner policyholders to be offered replacement coverage by either Royal Palm Insurance Company (Royal Palm) or Security First Insurance Company (Security First).  If the court approves, replacement coverage will be effective April 25, 2007, or upon expiration of the policyholder’s Vanguard coverage, whichever occurs first.  Policyholders also will be free to choose other companies for coverage. 

“Getting the company into the liquidation process will allow us to immediately begin paying claims from the state’s Florida Insurance Guaranty Association,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who as CFO oversees the department.  “Our top priority is to take care of policyholders and ensure their claims are paid.” CONTINUED


 

ALEX SINK HONORED FOR LEADERSHIP IN JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT CAPITAL CAMPAIGN

As chair of the 2003-2005 Junior Achievement Capital Campaign, Alex Sink gave support and leadership to help this Tampa Bay program succeed. This week, Richard George, of Junior Achievement's Enterprise Village, presented CFO Sink with a framed commemorative key to the village.

The Bill Poe Family Junior Achievement Center in Tampa houses a world-class learning facility where fifth grade students explore the world of business in a mini-city consisting of 20 public and private enterprises. JA Enterprise Village has an annual capacity of 14,000 students and the 15,000 square foot center features a state-of-the-art training facility for educators and volunteers. Through Junior Achievement’s partner, the School District of Hillsborough County, the center has been built on school board property located in the 13000 block of North 22nd Street in Tampa.  

The mayor at the Junior Achievement Enterprise village declared the thirtieth day of November as Alex Sink Day. This center was built as a result of Ms. Sink's tireless dedication and passion. Because of her hard work, students will be able to participate in this wonderful program for years to come.

Tampa Bay elementary students now have the opportunity to experience a day like no other; a day that is referred to by students as "the very best day ever!"



 

 

INSPECTOR TRAINING CLASSES NOW AVAILABLE FOR MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME PROGRAM

Classes are currently being offered for those interested in becoming home inspectors for the My Safe Florida Home program.

The law creating this program requires the Department of Financial Services to work with Wind Certification Entities (WCEs) that provide a workforce of inspectors who have successfully undergone the required criminal background check protocol, drug screening and completed specialized training and testing in hurricane mitigation survey and residential retrofitting procedures.

In the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Services class,  My Safe Florida Home procedures will be covered and participants who wish to take part in the state qualified "Wind & Hurricane Mitigation Inspectors" program can voluntarily take the certification exam following the class.

The first part of the presentation is intended to provide background information on wind characteristics, wind and building/structural interaction and common terms associated with structural design for wind loads. CONTINUED


 

 

 

IRS WEB SITE, WHERE'S MY REFUND, SEES INCREASED USE

The Internal Revenue Service released statistics today showing that taxpayers’ use of IRS.gov, which includes features such as Where’s My Refund is increasing.  Use of the IRS website has increased 9 percent over this time last year to 83.3 million visits.   

Where’s My Refund is the IRS Internet-based service taxpayers can use to check on the status of their federal income tax refunds.  Nearly 21 million requests have been received on Where’s My Refund this year, representing a growth of more than 3.9 million users compared to the same period last year.

“Where’s My Refund is easy to use,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “It is the fastest way to check on a refund.  Taxpayers who file Form 1040EZ-T can also take advantage of Where’s My Refund to find out about the telephone excise tax refund.”

Taxpayers can check their refund status online anytime from anywhere.  It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide, only by visiting IRS.gov.  Taxpayers can securely access their personal refund information by entering their Social Security number, filing status and the exact amount of their refund.  These shared secrets, known only to the taxpayer and IRS, verify the person is authorized to access the account. CONTINUED



 


 

 



Do you qualifu for the EITC? (Earned Income Tax Credit? Learn more.

FREE FILE AVAILABLE FOR REQUESTING TELEPHONE TAX REFUND
Service Includes People Who Do Not Need to File a Tax Return

The Internal Revenue Service reminds telephone customers who do not normally file tax returns that they can use Free File to request the telephone excise tax refund. This group includes low-income people, many of them senior citizens. IRS's Free File is the easiest and quickest way to request the refund, which, if directly deposited, could arrive in the taxpayer's bank account in two weeks or less.

“This program provides the option for most people to do their taxes electronically and for free," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. "Free File is a great choice for people who don’t normally need to file a tax return but who are entitled to this special telephone excise tax refund.”

The refund covers the 3-percent tax paid on long-distance and bundled service billed after Feb. 28, 2003, and before Aug. 1, 2006.

Federal long-distance excise taxes paid on land line, cell phone, fax and Internet phone service qualify for the refund. This includes bundled service — local and long-distance service provided under a plan that does not separately list the charge for local service. Bundled service includes, for example, phone plans that provide both local and long-distance service for either a flat monthly fee or a charge that varies with the time for which the service is used. CONTINUED