- Have a valid Social Security Number (if you are filing a joint return, your spouse also must have a valid Social Security Number)
- Have earned income from employment or from self-employment
- Have a filing status other than married, filing separately
- Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year, or a nonresident alien married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien and filing a joint return
- Not be a qualifying child of another person (if you are filing a joint return, your spouse also can not be a qualifying person)
- Not file Form 2555 or 2555-EZ (related to foreign earned income), and
- Have a qualifying child OR:
- be age 25 but under 65 at the end of the year
- live in the United States for more than half the year, and
- not qualify as a dependent of another person
For more information or to see if you qualify, go to
www.irs.gov/eitc or call 1–800–829–3676 and request
Earned Income Credit. Find out if you are eligible for the
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by answering some questions and providing
basic income information using the
EITC Assistant, available in English
See if you're eligible for a stimulus payment and how much you can expect to receive.
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.
For additional information on the special guidelines, please see IRS Fact Sheet FS 2008-16 Stimulus Payments: Instructions for Low-Income Workers and Recipients of Social Security and Certain Veterans’ Benefits, available online at www.irs.gov.
Florida Chief Financial Officer
Alex Sink applauded the Florida Senate Committee on Governmental
Operations 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 Al Lawson, Senator Bill Posey, and their Senate colleagues for their leadership and support of this bipartisan proposal to reduce the risk of hurricane assessments on Floridians and businesses. With their support, we will eliminate the risk of $5.5 billion in hurricane assessments if we have a bad storm.”
The companion bill is HB 7021, sponsored by State Representative Ron Reagan (R-Sarasota/Bradenton).
STATEMENT BY CFO SINK ON THE SENATE PASSAGE OF THE ANNUITY
Legislation Targets Agents Using Predatory Annuity and Life Insurance Practices Against Seniors
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink congratulated members of the Florida Senate for unanimously passing legislation (SB 2082) that comprehensively addresses the issue of annuity fraud, including strengthening penalties against agents who target Floridians, especially seniors and the mentally-disabled, using predatory annuity and life insurance practices.
“We need to deter and punish manipulative agents committing financially devastating crimes on Florida’s seniors,” said CFO Alex Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “I applaud Senate President Pruitt and Senator Bennett for their leadership and for helping my department reduce this widespread and growing problem.”
The House Companion, HB 1003, sponsored by State Rep. Clay Ford (R-Pensacola), after unanimously passing the Committee on Financial Institutions, is currently in the House Jobs & Entrepreneurship Council.
CFO SINK LEADS ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION WITH
INSURANCE CONSUMER ADVOCATES ON PROPERTY AND HEALTH INSURANCE
CFO Alex Sink met with leading insurance consumer advocates from around the country this week in Orlando at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners spring meeting. CFO Sink appoints Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate, and serves as a watchdog for Floridians on a number of insurance issues – including improving access to affordable property insurance and health insurance.
Bill Newton from the Florida Consumer Action Network organized the meeting. “The consumer representatives appreciated the opportunity to meet with the CFO.” Newton said. “We had a productive and useful dialogue. The CFO shares our concerns regarding the needs of insurance consumers and wants to work with consumers on improving access to affordable property and health insurance.”
Money-Smart Idea of the Week
Idea: Review Your Life and Disability Insurance Coverage
It's important that you have enough insurance to protect your family and your income in the case of death or disability. Review your insurance needs and plan for the big picture.
Purchasing term-life insurance as a less expensive alternative to whole life may make more sense when the need for coverage is greater than available funds. Whole life is useful when the need for life insurance will extend throughout your life, and can gain equity and may have tax advantages.
Term life can also be an effective tool as an "option-to-buy" whole life insurance in the future. Many term policies can be converted to whole life without medical re-evaluation, which is a valuable asset to purchase in a term policy.
Life insurance needs vary depending on your personal situation. Your salary supports your family, pays the bills or pays for college, thus life insurance is important to ensure that these obligations are covered in the event of your death.
Even more important is the need for disability insurance to protect your family in case of accident or illness. Many more families experience disability's need for income than experience the premature death of a wage earner. Shop with care for a disability policy - be sure to check out the company's payment history, and buy a disability policy that covers “own occupation” not any occupation.
You can contact
the Department of Financial Services Consumer Hotline with
additional questions at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO.
For more financial savings tips click here http://www.myfloridamoney.com/FLSaves.htm
FORECLOSURE ASSISTANCE CENTER OPENS IN WEST PALM BEACH
The City of West Palm Beach has joined with
national organizations and banks to create a first of its kind
Foreclosure assistance center. The Center is free and is a dedicated
to providing direct solutions to homeowners and the city’s
neighborhoods that have been affected by foreclosures. Residents of
the City of West Palm Beach may visit the Center and speak with
counselors at 464 Fern Street from 9-5 Monday-Friday; or counselors
may be reached by telephone at 561-822-1575. Appointments with
counselors are available on a case-by-case basis for nights and
Director Emelda Johnson has said the center’s goal is to provide homeowners the most direct services possible and to be a one-stop location for resources. In order to receive any benefits from the Center, City of WPB homeowners must agree to register in a housing education program for a minimum of 12 months. The Center is focused on immediate solutions for homeowners facing loss of their property located in the City of West Palm Beach. The options include direct payment to mortgagees for payments due up to $10,000; negotiation with the lender for new loan repayment agreements; purchase of the home should the lender agree to a “Short Sale”; purchased homes are then available through the city’s affordable housing program; also assistance with finding jobs and making a credit recovery plan.
The Center opened Monday March 31 and that evening over 100 voicemails were left from people that wanted help; about 1/3 of them were residents of Saint Lucie County which is over 50 miles away. Although residents outside the City of West Palm Beach are not eligible for the direct assistance options, counselors still spoke with homeowners outside the city to give them assistance referrals to other partner entities such as the Consumer Credit Counseling Service.
The Center hopes to be a unique model that could be duplicated throughout the United States. Its partners include The Urban League, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education and Community Housing, Inc. (REACH), BankAtlantic, Bank of America, Foreclosure.com, HSBC Bank, National City Bank, The Housing Partnership, SunTrust Bank, The T.A.C. Companies, Unified Financial Group, United Way of Palm Beach County, and Consumer Credit Counseling Service.