Sunday will mark the kick-off of the first ever Florida Saves Week,
February 24 – March 2, 2008. This year, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex
Sink has partnered with the Financial Literacy Council, the University of
Florida Extension and local Saves campaigns to bring the message of
saving money and building wealth to our state.
Florida Saves is a part of America Saves—a national public
awareness campaign that emphasizes increasing savings, reducing debt and
strengthening personal financial security.
Representatives from CFO Sink’s Division of Consumer Services will hold
events ranging in topics from investor education to finding money to save.
Consumers interested in participating in Florida Saves activities
should visit www.myfloridamoney.com/FLSaves.htm
and contact their local Consumer Services office for more information.
Through our Web site Floridians can also access
and links to information about the national America Saves campaign.
GOVERNOR CRIST CREATES TASK FORCE TO PREVENT
Experts in mortgage and banking industries, consumer advocates
and policy experts to develop recommendations
Governor Charlie Crist created the Florida Home Ownership
Promotes the Economy (HOPE) Task Force by Executive Order 08-27 to
develop an action plan to address Florida’s escalating foreclosure
rate. The Florida HOPE Task Force will bring together experts in the
mortgage and banking industries, as well as consumer advocates and
policy experts, to review Florida’s foreclosure rate and its impact
on Florida’s economy.
“Last year one out of every 95 households experienced foreclosure
in our state with filings up more than 275 percent over the previous
year,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. “Working
with the Governor’s H.O.P.E. Task Force, my office will be focused
on identifying solutions to help families work through the often
confusing and difficult process of retaining their homes.”
“Foreclosure hurts all Floridians by depressing home values and
causing families to lose homes, jobs and hope,” said Governor Crist.
“As this task force comes together to explore solutions, we will
search for ways to restore hope to Florida’s families – and to our
In 2007, Florida ranked second in the number of home foreclosures,
with twice as many foreclosures than in 2006. The Florida HOPE Task
Force will develop an action plan to address the foreclosure rate
and identify ways to preserve home ownership for Floridians.
The task force will meet four times, beginning on March 3, 2008, in
Tallahassee. Other meetings are planned for March 19 and April 2,
also in Tallahassee. The fourth meeting will be held via conference
call on April 9. They will present recommendations to the Governor,
Speaker of the House and President of the Senate by April 18, 2008.
Governor Crist appointed Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp as chair of the
Florida HOPE Task Force. Other members appointed by the Governor are
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Senator Bill Posey, Senator Tony
Hill, Representative Franklin Sands, Representative Garrett Richter,
Alex Sanchez of the Florida Bankers Association, D. Ritch Workman of
the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers, Mike Fields of Bank of
America, Thomas Kuntz of SunTrust, Nancy Riley of Florida Realtors
Association, Bill Newton of the Florida Consumer Action Network and
Steve Auger of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
In developing the state action plan to address Florida’s foreclosure
rate, the task force will assess Florida’s banking and mortgage
industries, including the subprime market and subprime borrowers, as
well as the current laws and regulations related to the foreclosure
process. They will also identify and assess public and private
financial resources and educational opportunities available to
assist Florida homeowners.
CFO SINK TO INCREASE FINANCIAL LITERACY AWARENESS DURING
FLORIDA SAVES WEEK
DFS to hold financial literacy events across the state
In an ongoing effort to increase financial literacy, Florida Chief Financial
Officer Alex Sink announced the Department of Financial Services (DFS) will
partner with the Financial Literacy Council, University of Florida Extension offices
and local Saves
campaigns to host financial literacy events across the state in conjunction
with Florida Saves Week, February 24 – March 2, 2008.
“As the state's fiscal watchdog, helping Floridians learn how to manage and protect their money and assets
is one of my highest priorities as the state’s fiscal watchdog,” said CFO
Sink, who oversees DFS. “It is imperative that Floridians understand the
importance of saving and investing their money to avoid debt.”
CFO Sink’s Division of Consumer Services will hold events highlighting the
purpose of the Florida Saves campaign: saving money and building wealth.
Presentation topics will range from investor education to finding money to
save. Consumers interested in participating in Florida Saves activities
should visit the Web site
and contact their local Consumer
Services office for more information.
CFO Sink is a strong proponent of financial literacy. Through many
coordinators, the DFS aggressively reaches out to local communities to
educate consumers on topics such as the wise use of credit cards for teens,
credit card identity theft, hurricane preparedness, small business security,
life insurance and first-time homebuyer workshops. Last year alone, the
department conducted over 2,680 outreach events around the state.
Financial literacy education is essential, as recent news reports show that
American consumers are living paycheck to paycheck and spending every dollar
they earn. In fact, the U.S. government recently calculated consumer
savings at the lowest levels since the Great Depression. In essence, too
many consumers are spending more than they earn and not saving for future
STATEMENT BY CFO SINK ON THE HOUSE JOBS &
ENTREPRENEURSHIP COUNCIL’S UNANIMOUS PASSAGE OF HER LEGISLATION TO
REDUCE RISK OF ASSESSMENTS
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today
applauded the Florida House Jobs & Entrepreneurship Council for
unanimously passing PCB JEC 08-01 – the Florida Hurricane
Catastrophe Fund Risk Reduction Bill.
“On the eve of another Hurricane Season, the Legislature has taken
an important step to reduce the risk of billions in assessments
forced on Floridians when we have a bad storm,” said CFO Sink. “I
thank Chairman Reagan and the members for their leadership on this
bipartisan proposal and for recognizing the tremendous impact of
these hidden taxes on the people of Florida.”
Idea of the Week
Idea: Saving money is often easier
than you think.
Be aware of incidental cost associated with
accounts that can cost you hundreds of dollars each year. Below are a few
tips that can easily help you save money.
Reducing credit card debt.
Reducing debt by $1,000 can save you up to $200 a year – potentially even
more if you are paying penalty rates of about 20 – 30%.
Make your monthly credit card payment on time.
By avoiding a late fee each month you can save nearly $420 a year per
Use only the ATMs of your bank or credit union.
Using the ATM of another financial institution can be costly. Weekly
withdrawal fees can cost you more than $150 over the course of a year.
WORKERS’ COMP INVESTIGATORS HELPING HOMEOWNERS, MONITORING
CONTRACTORS IN TORNADO-DAMAGED AREAS
Panhandle residents whose homes and businesses were damaged by tornadoes
that struck the region last Sunday are urged to be cautious when selecting
repair contractors. In addition to verifying that contractors are licensed
and asking for references, CFO Sink said consumers should ask for proof of
workers’ compensation coverage and check the Department of Financial
Services’ website to ensure compliance.
The department has also dispatched compliance investigators to the area to
hand out brochures and provide information to property owners and monitor
contractors responding to the area to ensure compliance.
CFO Sink said consumers must be proactive and protect themselves because
property owners can be held liable if a worker is injured on their property
and the contractor does not have workers’ compensation coverage. To verify
that a company has workers’ compensation coverage or a state-approved
exemption, log on to
In addition, consumers may access the Compliance Stop-Work Order Database,
which lists employers who have been issued stop-work orders for failing to
comply with the coverage requirements of Chapter 440, F.S. The database
contains each employer’s name, the date the stop-work order was issued, the
date the stop-work order was released and the type of non-compliance
violation. To access the Compliance Stop-Work Order Database, click on
On Sunday, Feb. 17, a series of tornados swept through northern Escambia
County, damaging or destroying more than 60 structures in the Molino area
north of Pensacola. By Wednesday, Feb. 20, compliance investigators from the
Pensacola office of the department’s Division of Workers' Compensation,
Bureau of Compliance, were in the area. So far, they have distributed dozens
of Insurance and Reconstruction Information for Property Owners fliers to
residents who suffered damage to their homes and/or businesses, and provided
crucial information to victims on insurance information, finding a licensed
contractor, entering into repair or reconstruction contracts and canceling a
contract, as well as key state agency contact information.
One stop-work order was issued to an electrical contractor who had two
employees working without workers' compensation insurance.
STIMULUS PAYMENTS FROM THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
Starting in May, the U.S. Treasury will begin sending economic stimulus
payments to more than 130 million individuals. The stimulus payments will go
out through the late spring and summer.
The vast majority of Americans who qualify for the payment will not have to
do anything other than file their 2007 individual income tax return to
receive their payment this year. The IRS will use information on the tax
return to determine eligibility and calculate the amount of the stimulus
For more information on the stimulus payments, including the amounts and
IR-2008-18, IRS Will Send Stimulus Payments
Automatically Starting in May; Eligible Taxpayers Must File
a 2007 Tax Return to Receive Rebate.
FS-2008-15, Facts about the 2008 Stimulus Payments.
IR-2008-21, More Information on Stimulus Payments Posted
to IRS.gov; New Details for Recipients of Social Security,
Listen to IRS acting Commissioner Linda Stiff
summarizing the key points of the economic stimulus payments
English or in
Stimulus Payment Examples
The eligibility for and amount of stimulus payments to taxpayers
will vary according to their income and family situations. Here are
the various scenarios:
Information for Recipients of Social Security Benefits
The IRS and Treasury will be working
closely with the Social Security Administration along with
beneficiary organizations to ensure that all eligible individuals
know what to do to receive a stimulus payment. In many cases, the
taxpayer will be able to use the short tax return Form 1040A.
for Recipients of Veterans' Benefits
The IRS and Treasury will be working closely with the Department of
Veterans Affairs along with beneficiary organizations to ensure that
all eligible individuals know what to do to receive a stimulus
payment. In many cases, the taxpayer will be able to use the short
tax return Form 1040A.
Alert on Rebate Scams
Taxpayers should be aware that there are identity theft scams
involving the proposed advance payment checks, known informally as
rebates to many Americans. The IRS knows of at least one telephone
scam making the rounds which uses the proposed rebates as bait.