Volume 2, Number 5, January 31, 2005
Last week a distinctive face recognized from world news, former Prime Minister of Israel and now the Minister of Foreign Affairs Binyamin Netanyahu, was in Tallahassee visiting with Gov. Bush. He was then whisked down the hall to my office where we had the opportunity to talk about many areas of finance and politics.
Netanyahu studied in the United States and returned to his native Israel for military service in 1967. His career went from business to politics, and he was elected to the Knesset in 1988. During the Gulf War his political position strengthened and he emerged as a candidate for prime minister from the Likud party, winning the 1996 election.
In addition to appreciating his candor and intellect, Netanyahu demonstrated a strong grasp of U.S. politics. We talked at length about the “part-time” legislature aspect of Florida government, an aspect of our government that our founding fathers had in mind.
I certainly look forward to meeting with him again.
-- Tom Gallagher
MANY FLORIDIANS ARE MISSING OUT ON TAX WINDFALL
Florida CFO, Coalition launch statewide education effort to help Floridians claim millions
As many as 350,000 Floridians could be claiming an immediate cash refund worth thousands of dollars - and now there are free resources available to help them do it, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has announced.
“We know that thousands of Floridians qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and don’t claim it. For many families, these dollars could help pay down debt or make a down payment on a house. For Florida, it means millions of dollars added to our economy,” Gallagher said. “Our goal in promoting awareness of the tax credit and the resources available is to get money back in the hands of hardworking taxpayers so that they can take advantage of Florida’s unlimited opportunity.”
Many Floridians could get checks totaling up to $4,300 more in the mail this tax season - that’s in addition to whatever sum they might already be expecting when they file their annual income tax return. In addition to the current year, Floridians can go back three years prior to claim refunds. Those who qualify include:
Gallagher said getting out the word about the Earned Income Tax Credit is part of the ongoing Your Money, Your Life initiative launched last fall. He said it is especially important in a year when so many Floridians suffered hurricane losses that the public knows how easy it is for those who qualify to file for the credit. According to the IRS, as much as $635 million dollars is still going unclaimed in Florida.
GALLAGHER URGES ELIGIBLE HURRICANE VICTIMS TO SUBMIT MULTIPLE DEDUCTIBLE INFORMATION
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher called on all Floridians who may be eligible to receive compensation for multiple hurricane deductibles to act now so their applications for relief are received before the March 1st deadline. The Multiple Deductible Reimbursement Program was created to avoid economic tumult the state faced because many Floridians could not afford to rebuild or repair their homes after being charged up to four deductibles.
The Florida Legislature set a March 1, 2005 deadline for applications seeking reimbursement. “Those who may be eligible for reimbursement of multiple deductibles should have received application packages from their insurance company by now,” said Gallagher, “but if they haven’t received them they should immediately contact their insurer and our department.”
The Department of Financial Services has the application available online at www.MyFloridaCFO.com. An application can also be obtained by calling 1-800-22-STORM, which is also the number to call with questions about the program. Applicants will need to obtain information from their insurance company to complete their applications.
“No one foresaw the possibility of us being hit by four catastrophic storms in one season, nor the economic repercussions our economy could suffer if we don’t get homes rebuilt or repaired,” said Gallagher.
Floridians eligible for the program include homeowners, renters, mobile homeowners, manufactured homeowners, cooperative unit, apartment houses and homeowners and condominium associations, who paid one full deductible for hurricane losses and also incurred deductible losses from a second, third or even a fourth hurricane.
Individuals may apply for reimbursement of the amount of their loss in excess of their first deductible, capped at $10,000 for damage caused by two hurricanes or $20,000 for damage caused by three or more hurricanes during the 2004 hurricane season. Condominium associations can recover a maximum of $3,000 per unit that did not have insurance for assessments. Any policyholder who paid more than one full deductible also may be eligible for relief. Applicants must have documentation from their insurance providers to verify that more than one hurricane claim was filed.
Reimbursements will be reduced by $100 to the total reimbursable amount for each claimed filed after the first storm claim; and by any funds received as a grant to cover the deductible through federal, state, county, or municipal programs.
All applications must be completed, signed and filed with the department by March 1, 2005.
GALLAGHER, ICHEIC JOIN UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI TO LAUNCH PILOT PROJECT FOR STUDENTS AND HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS
FLORIDA LEAGUE OF CITIES THANKS CFO TOM GALLAGHER FOR LEADING INSURANCE FRAUD FIGHT
The Florida League of Cities has presented Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher with a resolution to acknowledge his department’s work in fighting insurance fraud. Florida League of Cities President Clay Ford, who also serves as Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Gulf Breeze, presented the resolution during a brief ceremony at the Capitol.
AUTO SHOP OWNERS CHARGED WITH INSURANCE FRAUD
The owners of an auto repair shop were arrested on insurance fraud charges stemming from an investigation that showed they underreported payroll to avoid paying thousands of dollars in workers’ compensation premiums.
Edward and Mary Thibeault, owners of Ed's Auto Repair, located at 2936 North SR 7, were booked this morning into the Broward County Jail with bond set at $1,500 each. If convicted, each faces up to five years in prison on the third-degree felony charge. The arrests were made by insurance fraud investigators with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud.
“Employers who don’t fully cover their workers not only break the law but also break an obligation they have to their employees to make sure they are taken care of if they are injured on the job,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “Workers’ compensation fraud hurts workers and employers who play by the rules and will not be tolerated in Florida.”
The investigation began after former employees complained that the business owners had been paying them in cash to deliberately understate the company's payroll to Bridgefield Employers Insurance. The complainants told investigators they believed the Thibeaults, both 50, had been doing this for more than 20 years.
The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the department's Fraud Busters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
BID FOR THE LUNCH OF A LIFETIME!
Top Celebrities Donate an Hour of their time for Charity eBay
CFO Tom Gallagher, Coach Bobby Bowden, Attorney General Charlie Crist and Congressman John Mica are among the list of 200 famous faces up for bid to benefit Communities In Schools
Communities In Schools, the nation’s leading stay-in-school organization, has launched its third annual Lunch With a Leader ™ online auction at www.lunchwithaleader.com. The auction, which is hosted on eBay, will allow high bidders to have the lunch of a lifetime with a NASCAR legend, a former first lady, the founder of a Fortune 500 company…and many others.
FSU Coach Bobby Bowden, Florida’s CFO Tom Gallagher, Florida’s Attorney General Charlie Crist, and Congressman John Mica are “up for bid” February 1st – February 11th. Proceeds from these Florida leaders will benefit Communities In Schools of Florida. Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher said: “As a proud CIS board member, I am happy to participate in this great event.
Along with First Lady Laura Bush, I support Communities In Schools because ‘CIS turns kids on to learning by turning them on to life’.”
Nascar driver Bill Elliott is quoted saying: “All children have the potential to be successful, but they can only reach that potential when they stay in school. I love Lunch With a Leader, because everyone comes out a winner. One of my fans will be the high bidder and have lunch with me. Communities In Schools will benefit from the dollars raised, and most of all a kid somewhere will have a better chance at winning in life.”
The online charity auction features national figures from every walk of life, as well as state leaders. Nascar legends Bill Riley and Richard Petty, Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and Larry King, are among more than 200 leaders who have donated their time – some for the third year in a row – on behalf of children and youth in jeopardy of dropping out of school. Proceeds from Lunch With a Leader will benefit Communities In Schools. Last year’s auction raised more than $147,000 nationally.
Communities In Schools is the nation’s leading community-based organization helping kids stay in school and prepare for life. Today, more than 2 million young people every year have access to services through over 200 local and state Communities In Schools programs in 28 states. For two years in a row, Worth magazine named CIS one of the top 100 nonprofits in America.
Communities In Schools of Florida currently serves nearly 25,000 students in 15 local programs.