Volume 5 Number 15
April 11, 2008
Floridians all across our state are experiencing the increasing burden of
the cost of living. As we approach Tuesday’s midnight deadline to file a tax
return, it is very important that taxpayers understand the requirements for
receiving the economic stimulus payment and eligibility for the earned
income tax credit.
Starting in May, the U.S. Treasury will begin sending economic stimulus
payments to more than 130 million households. To receive a payment,
taxpayers must have a valid Social Security number, $3,000 of income and
file a 2007 federal tax return. The Internal Revenue Service will take care
of the rest.
- 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 approximately 1.5 million Floridians receiving
Social Security, certain Veterans’ and Railroad Retirement benefits, and
low-income workers need to file a federal tax return this year in order
to receive their economic stimulus payment.
- For additional information on the special economic stimulus
guidelines, please see IRS Fact Sheet FS 2008-16 Stimulus Payments,
available online at www.irs.gov.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) sometimes called the Earned Income
Credit (EIC), is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income
working individuals and families. Congress originally approved the tax
credit legislation in 1975 in part to offset the burden of social security
taxes and to provide an incentive to work. When the EITC exceeds the amount
of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for
To qualify, taxpayers must meet certain requirements and file a tax return,
even if they did not earn enough money to be obligated to file a tax return.
For more information and qualifications, go to
www.irs.gov/eitc/ or call
CFO SINK VISITS BABCOCK RANCH IN
CFO Alex Sink had the opportunity to visit Babcock Ranch (a
73,239 acre parcel of land located in Charlotte and Lee
counties) this week. The land was bought by the state in
2006 for $350
Prior to being in state ownership, portions of the land were
used as a working farm, which included tenant farming, beef
cattle, pine timbering and some eco-tourism. The land
purchase was notable for several reasons. First, the law
authorizing the purchase required that the land remain as a
working farm. Second, the law required that the land retain
its conservation values, including preserving imperiled and
threatened species, such as the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Arnie Sarlow, above right, general manager and Vice
President of Babcock Ranch, LLC, hosted the tour for
the CFO and staff.
Since 2006, the land managers have operated under a
Management Agreement. All the interested parties have been
working on a new document, titled the Management Plan, which
part of the Management Agreement when it is adopted by the
Board of Trustees in July. The management plan provides
greater detail on how lands will be managed into the future.
saw the beef cattle operation
on the ranch, areas where watermelon farming is occurring,
and areas where pine timbering has occurred. She toured the
Cypress Lodge, which is located at the Telegraph Swamp, and
which will become part of the eco-tourism facilities in the
|New York Times
columnist, author and commentator David Brooks gives the keynote
"Making Sense of Modern Professional Life" in Wake Forest
University's Wait Chapel March 27, 2008, during a two-day
conference, "Why Work? Business, Professions, and the Common
CFO SINK CHAIRS PANEL AT WAKE FOREST CONFERENCE
CFO Alex Sink joined New York Times
columnist, author and commentator David Brooks and former Pepsi-Co CEO Steve
Reinemund at a Wake Forest University conference – “Why Work?
Business, Professions and the Common Good” -- a two-day event examining how to balance
making a good living with having a meaningful life.
“Work provides a venue for social interaction, involvement in civic activity
for the betterment of the community and intellectual stimulation,” Sink told
the assembled crowd of more than 700. “Balance is an essential part of the
equation for me, and includes faith as my moral compass; the privilege as a
parent to mold future citizens; a responsibility to make the most of the
talents I’ve been given as a professional; and the obligation to give back
as a volunteer.”
CFO Sink also served as a panelist in a second session, “The Demands of
Public Service” led by former U.S. Congressman Lee Hamilton, Michigan
Congressman Fred Upton and Knoxville, Tennessee Mayor William Haslam.
This conference was part of Wake Forest’s “Voices of Our Time” speaker
series, which exposes students, the university community and the general
public to some of the world’s leading thinkers for discussions on the
important national and international issues of our time.
STATEMENT BY CFO SINK ON SENATE
COMMITTEE’S PASSAGE OF CAT FUND PROPOSAL
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink applauded the Florida Senate
Committee on General Government Appropriations for unanimously passing
Senate Bill 2156 by State Senator Bill Posey (R-Rockledge), which reduces
Floridians’ risk of hurricane assessments from the Florida Hurricane
“Eliminating $5.5 billion of hurricane assessment risk after a bad storm is
the fiscally responsible thing to do,” said CFO Sink. “I thank Senator
Alexander, Senator Lawson, Senator Posey and their colleagues for their
leadership and support of this bipartisan proposal to reduce the risk of
hurricane assessments on Floridians and businesses.”
The companion bill is HB 7021, sponsored by State Representative Ron Reagan
CFO SINK ADDRESSES THE FHBA IN TALLAHASSEE
CFO Alex Sink
spoke with the Florida Home Builders Association Monday at their
Spring Legislative Conference in Tallahassee. Sharing her take on
this year’s legislative session, she highlighted issues facing
Floridian’s homeowners and homebuilders, like affordable housing,
mitigation, and the rising costs of insurance. CFO Sink also
stressed the importance of innovation and the benefits of efficient,
environmentally friendly homes.
Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) is the state affiliate for 28 local
associations in Florida. About one-third of FHBA’s 17,000 members are home
builders and/or remodelers. The remainder are “associates,” working in
closely related fields within the housing industry.
CFO Sink spoke to the Bank Directors
Workshop in Fort Lauderdale onTuesday.
Florida Education Association stopped in to say hello during their
Legislative Day in Tallahassee.
Leadership Hollywood in Tallahassee. Participants expressed enthusiasm with
the My Safe Florida Home program.
THE CAPITOL WELCOMES AN ANNUAL FEAST
What do you get if you mix 1,540 pounds of chicken, 620
pounds of Valencia rice, 450 pounds of fish, 380 pounds of shrimp, 450
pounds of lobster tails, 450 pounds of clams, 310 pounds of sweet peas, 20
pounds of garlic and 10 cases of beer with lots of hungry people? The
“World Famous Paella Fest” at the Capitol, a Miami-Dade County Days'
The enormous paella pan, capable of serving up to 3,000 meals, had been
hauled in behind a truck and was bubbling hot by noontime, when the serving
lines started snaking around the courtyard.
CFO Sink joined in the fun, spooning out the bright-orange
dish with other dignitaries, including many friends visiting the capital
Idea of the Week
Reduce Credit Card Debt
There are plenty of positive reasons
to use a credit card instead of cash. Convenience, frequent flier miles and
credit rating are a few. However, as so many have learned, credit cards are
only advantageous if used correctly. Credit card debt has emerged as a
significant financial concern for millions of card holders. Getting out of
credit card debt is an arduous task. Avoiding it in the first place is much
easier, if you have the self-discipline to follow a few simple rules.
1. Choose your credit card wisely - shop around and compare cards based on
interest rates and fees.
2. Establish good credit card spending habits - it is not a free pass to
spend money you don’t have or will need to borrow.
3. Pay in full at the end of each month.
4. Keep good records by keeping all credit card receipts and reconcile them
with your statement each month.
5. Make sure you have the numbers of all credit cards on hand in case you
If you get into good credit card habits early, you will avoid having to get
out of credit card debt.
For more financial savings tips click here
SAVE MONEY FOR YOUR
Saving money is an ongoing challenge.
Paychecks only go so far, making it worthwhile to develop money-saving
1. Track your spending. Keep a record of where you spend your
money, then evaluate the results to identify if you're using money for
unnecessary things. Look at the places where you can save money; even
small outlays can add up.
2. Pay yourself first. This is a strategy that starts a
consistent savings program. You should put money into savings first
every month and if you get a raise, add that money to the amount you are
putting aside each paycheck.
3. Start a tax-advantaged savings plan. Many companies offer
401(k) or similar plans and you should take advantage if one is offered.
If not, open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Use direct deposit
for these retirement savings accounts so you're not tempted to spend the
4. Save the credit cards for emergencies. Limit yourself to one
or two credit cards with the best rates, and use them for only major
purchases or emergencies. Also, pay off your credit card balances
CROOKS USE STATE'S NAME TO ATTEMPT IDENTITY THEFT
The Office of Financial Regulation has been alerted that someone has been
making phone calls claiming to be with the State of Florida Division of
Securities in an effort to obtain personal financial information.
Con artists know that people trust government agencies. This is why they are
using the “State of Florida’s” name in an attempt to obtain confidential
information from consumers and businesses.
These callers trick you into revealing personal financial and private
information. Fraudsters use the information they obtain to steal your
identity and your financial assets. These types of identity theft scams are
commonly referred to as "phishing schemes.”
The Division of Securities will not ask for your PIN numbers, passwords or
similar secret access information for your credit card, bank or other