Volume 5 Number 13
March 28, 2008

Did you know that 1.5 million Floridians who are not normally required to file a tax return may be eligible for a federal economic stimulus payment? These Floridians – who receive Social Security, certain Veterans’ or Railroad Retirement benefits, or are low-income workers – will need to file a special tax return in order to get the tax rebate they deserve.

Note: Most Floridians will already be filing a 2007 tax return and will not need to take any additional steps to receive their federal economic stimulus payments.

This week, CFO Sink announced that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is offering free tax filing services on “Super Saturday” (March 29, 2008) at more than 30 locations around the state.

LIST OF IRS' FREE TAX FILING LOCATIONS

CFO Sink is encouraging all Floridians to help their parents, grandparents, family, friends and neighbors if they are entitled to a tax rebate this year.

For additional information on “Super Saturday” or other tax information, please visit www.irs.gov.


CFO SINK: MILLIONS OF FLORIDIANS ELIGIBLE FOR FEDERAL ECONOMIC STIMULUS, BUT ONLY IF THEY FILE
CFO joins with IRS and AARP to promote free “Super Saturday” tax filings statewide
 
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, along with representatives from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the AARP, held a press conference Wednesday to alert millions of Floridians who are normally not required to file a tax return that they may be eligible for federal economic stimulus payments to be issued beginning May 2008.
While Floridians already filing a 2007 tax return do not need to take any additional steps to receive their federal economic stimulus payments, the IRS estimates this special filing requirement affects approximately 1.5 million Floridians receiving Social Security, certain Veterans’ and Railroad Retirement benefits, and low-income workers. 
 
“It is my goal to reach the 1.5 million seniors, veterans and low-income Floridians who do not normally file tax returns but who may be eligible for the federal government’s economic stimulus money this year,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  “I encourage all Floridians to help their parents, grandparents, family, friends and neighbors receive the tax rebates they deserve.”  CONTINUED

 



 


Chairman Obdulio Piedro speaks about the Financial Literacy Council and its mission.
 
 

Chairman Piedro and board members of the Financial Literacy Council at the Cabinet meeting designating April as Financial Literacy Month in Florida

CFO SINK DESIGNATES APRIL AS FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH

At a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced her resolution designating April as Financial Literacy Month. During the month of April, CFO Sink will raise awareness about the need for increased financial literacy among Floridians, as well as increased availability to financial information and assistance.

 

“Whether it’s purchasing your first home, saving for retirement or avoiding excessive debt levels, it is truly important for Floridians to make wise decisions with their financial resources,” said CFO Sink. “During the month of April, my office will be working to help educate Floridians about the importance of prudent money management and the resources available in their communities.”



CFO Sink is a strong proponent of financial literacy. Through
regional outreach coordinators, her Department of Financial Services (DFS) aggressively educates consumers in their local communities on topics such as the wise use of credit cards, identity theft, hurricane preparedness, small business security, life insurance policies and first-time homebuyer workshops. During 2007, DFS conducted more than 2,680 outreach events around the state. CONTINUED
 


 

STATEMENT BY CFO SINK ON THE SENATE BANKING & INSURANCE COMMITTEE’S PASSAGE OF CAT FUND PROPOSAL
 

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink applauded the Florida Senate Banking & Insurance Committee for unanimously passing Senate Bill 2156 by State Senator Bill Posey (R-Rockledge), which reduces the amount of exposure Florida’s consumers have to hurricanes.
 
“I thank Senator Posey and his Senate colleagues for their leadership and support of this bipartisan proposal to reduce the risk of hurricane assessments on Floridians and businesses,” said CFO Alex Sink. “With their support, we are eliminating the risk of $5.5 billion in hurricane assessments if we have a bad storm this year.”

The companion bill is HB 7021, sponsored by State Representative Ron Reagan (R-Sarasota/Bradenton).




 

REALTOR DAYS AT THE CAPITOL

CFO Sink joined other elected officials and citizens this week in celebrating Great American Realtor Days at the Capitol. During her address, CFO Sink highlighted the outstanding potential of free wind inspections through the My Safe Florida Home Program. She also thanked Realtors for their high standards of service to the citizens of Florida, especially in the current real estate climate. Quoting Thomas Jefferson she noted, “The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.”
 


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CFO SINK DELIVERS FINANCIAL LITERACY ADDRESS TO FINANCIAL LITERACY COUNCIL

The Financial Literacy Council met on Monday afternoon on the 22nd floor of the Capitol to hear CFO Alex Sink speak about the state of Florida's financial literacy.

With the current state of the economy and many people faced with difficult financial decisions they don't understand, financial guidance and assistance are more important than ever.

The upcoming year may be a difficult one. The nation is bracing for tough economic times and Florida is facing an enormous revenue shortfall. Money for all kinds of programs will likely be scarce. And the need for financial literacy education is vital during these times.

The Council  is working to realize goals of increasing awareness of financial literacy and consumer education, building a single state resource on financial issues and aggressively increasing financial literacy outreach.     

In the year ahead, the council is charged with developing a strategic outreach plan and  building an interactive website that will provide education to Floridians about personal financial matters. That site will also connect people to resources available in their own communities.


Left to right: FLC Staff Director R. Jai Howard, Board Members Richard George, Dulce Suarez-Resnick, Doug Heinlen, Cassandra J. Grayson, Deidre Newton, CFO Alex Sink, Chair Obdulio Piedra, Paul Auslander, Dr. Liana Fernandez Fox and Clinton Mueller.


Mark Holmgren, Executive Vice President of United Way of Tampa Bay, received special recognition for their financial literacy program, My Family's Future. Left to right: Richard George, CFO Alex Sink, Mark Holmgren and Odulio Piedra.
 


Frybrid Diesel/Vegetable Oil
 
 
Representative Vana addresses the Governor and Cabinet in praise of the FryBrid project of Mike Haber and Richard Blair.

 

CFO SINK COMMENDS STUDENTS, TEACHERS FOR INNOVATIVE “GREEN” VEHICLE

CFO Alex Sink recognized some special “green” guests at the Cabinet meeting this week. A "FryBrid" conversion vehicle was created by the K-12 Science Team Division of Curriculum & Learning Support and the School District of Palm Beach County.

Students Mike Haber and Richard Blair, and their teachers Thomas Knott, Deborah Bower, Thomas Metcalf, and science administrator Fred Barch, came to Tallahassee to promote their vehicle that runs on free, waste vegetable oil from cafeterias and restaurants. Representative Shelley Vana joined her constituents from Palm Beach County at the Cabinet meeting.



CONTINUED


 

 

GOVERNOR, CABINET CELEBRATE APRIL AS WATER CONSERVATION MONTH

Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet today recognized April as Water Conservation Month. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), together with the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association, endorsed the proclamation, reaffirming the state's commitment to increasing water use efficiency.

"Recognizing April as Water Conservation Month helps promote the importance of water conservation, encouraging Floridians to become environmental stewards at home and in their communities," said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. "By using water efficiently, we reduce the unnecessary waste of a precious resource, we extend supplies of water for our growing population, and we protect the state's natural resources." CONTINUED
 

Money-Smart
Idea of the Week

Idea: Take advantage of tax-advantaged retirement plans

The sooner you begin saving, the more time your money has to grow. Gains each year build on the prior year's gains -- that's the power of compounding -- and the best way to accumulate wealth. Qualified plans such as the Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and 401(k) have tax advantages to encourage saving for retirement. 

Contributing money to a 401(k) gives you an immediate tax deduction, tax-deferred growth on your savings, and - usually - a matching contribution from your company.
 
Like a 401(k), IRAs offer tax breaks. There are two types: a traditional IRA offers tax-deferred growth, meaning you pay taxes on your investment gains only when you make withdrawals, and, if you qualify, your contributions may be deductible; a Roth IRA, by contrast, doesn't allow for deductible contributions but offers tax-free growth, meaning you owe no tax when you make withdrawals.


For more financial savings tips click here http://www.myfloridamoney.com/FLSaves.htm


SADOWSKI WORKFORCE HOUSING COALITION IN TALLAHASSEE

CFO Sink joined the Sadowski Workforce Housing Coalition in urging the Legislature to utilize Florida's Housing Trust Fund resources on affordable housing, which creates thousands of jobs and generates billions of dollars in economic stimulus in our local communities.   

“Affordable housing programs are an investment in our future,” said CFO Sink. “These tax dollars help create jobs, stimulate local economies, and assist Floridians in realizing the American Dream of home ownership.”


 

IRS 'DIRTY DOZEN' LISTS TAX SCAMS TO AVOID

In March, the Internal Revenue Service issued its 2008 list of the 12 most egregious tax schemes and scams, highlighted by Internet phishing scams and several frivolous tax arguments.

Topping this year’s list of scams is phishing, which encompasses numerous Internet-based ploys to steal financial information from taxpayers. New to the “Dirty Dozen” this year is a scheme, which IRS auditors discovered, that relates to unreasonable and/or excessive fuel tax credit claims.

“Taxpayers should be wary of scams and promises to avoid paying taxes that seem too good to be true,” Acting IRS Commissioner Linda Stiff said. “There is no secret formula that can eliminate a person’s tax obligations. People should be wary of anyone peddling any of these scams.”

Tax schemes can lead to problems for both scam artists and taxpayers. Tax return preparers and promoters also risk significant penalties, interest and possible criminal prosecution. CONTINUED


LEADERSHIP FLORIDA GROUPS GATHER IN TALLAHASSEE

CFO Sink met with Leadership Tampa Bay, Pensacola and Santa Rosa this week during their visit to Tallahassee. While visiting with the groups she spoke about the state’s budget crisis, the need for increased financial literacy in Florida and the My Safe Florida Home program.