Retirement Planning Classes

University of Florida/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension is providing classes to help those planning for retirement.

Description: Are you 10 years or less from retirement? Get the information you need to secure a comfortable retirement. This 2 session educational course will provide the unbiased information you need to make savvy retirement planning decisions.

Dates: October 10 and 24, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Topics include: Evaluating your situation, sources of income, inflation, taxes, asset usage in retirement & choosing financial professionals.

This is an educational program presented by the University of Florida Hillsborough County Extension. Financial products and services will not be endorsed or sold.

Location: Hillsborough County Extension, 5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33584.

Cost: $12.00 and covers both sessions. Late cancellations and no shows are not eligible for a refund.

Registration Deadline: October 3. Seating is limited so register early.

Register at:

For more information contact Lisa Leslie at or 813-744-5519 ext. 54143.


The Truth About Credit Repair

Promotions such as – We Can Repair Your Credit – are everywhere. They imply that all you need to do is hire a service to get negative items wiped off your credit history and your credit score will instantly improve. The reality is that consumers often pay a lot of money and their score does not improve in any significant way.

It is true that a consumer has several options to deal with debt and build a good credit history. These include DIY, debt management plans, debt settlement, and bankruptcy. The best option depends on a person’s specific situation.

Each option comes with different side effects. DIY may have the least side effects, but is only feasible for people who have enough income to cover living expenses & debt repayment. Debt settlement may have tax consequences. Bankruptcy can have longer lasting side effects, but for some people it is the best option to get back on track.

Removing negative credit items will not instantly lead to high credit score. A history of paying debts as agreed is necessary for a high credit score. So after dealing with negative debt, a consumer will need to use credit effectively to build a good history. Unfortunately, many consumers pay for expensive loans with a goal of building credit. Often the fees and interest are so high that they consume a large portion of income.

The truth is many consumers can build or rebuild a credit history. The first step is to analyze your specific situation, understand your options, and make an action plan.

If you need help making a plan consider working with a Florida Master Money Mentor. The mentors provide free 1-1 educational help and guidance. They cannot provide legal or investment advice, nor do they sell or endorse financial products. They can provide guidance in developing a plan to achieve financial goals such as building credit, debt repayment, or developing a savings plan. For more information about how to connect with Florida Master Money Mentor in Hillsborough County contact Lisa Leslie or 813-744-5519 ext.54143.

Florida Master Money Mentor Training

Hillsborough County Extension is offering training to those interested in becoming a Florida Master Money Mentor volunteer. The program is an opportunity for participants to learn more about personal finance and then share that knowledge with others.

The four-week training is scheduled July 13, 20, 27 and August 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the County Extension office, 5339 County Road 579 in Seffner. Participants must attend all four classes and complete some at-home study. Registration cost is $16.00 and the deadline is July 5.

No previous financial education or background in financial services is required to be a Florida Master Money Mentor. Training topics include effective communication strategies, analyzing decisions about finances, cash flow management, credit, debt management, and saving and investing for future goals.

Mentors are asked to commit to volunteering at least three hours per week, and follow guidelines in regards to reporting, client confidentiality, and providing research-based unbiased information.

Individuals who promote, sell, or endorse financial products or services are not eligible to be volunteers. But they can attend the training to increase their personal finance knowledge.

Register online at . Seating is limited so register early to reserve a spot.

For more information, contact Lisa Leslie, Hillsborough County Extension Services at (813) 744-5519 ext. 54143 or


The University of Florida Extension provides the infrastructure for this program throughout the state of Florida, thanks to a gift from Bank of America.



April 18 Tax Filing Deadline & Filing for an Extension

The tax filing deadline this year is April 18.

If a tax filer is owed a refund, they have up to 3 years to file and get that refund back. Free software will be available until October 16, 2017 for filers with an adjusted gross income of $64,000 or less.  AGI does not include money contributed to tax deductible retirement plans or certain other adjustments. Your 2015 AGI can be found on line 37 of your Form 1040 tax return.

For free file software options visit and click the “freefile” link.

If you are getting a refund there is no need to file for an extension.

Filing an Extension

If a taxpayer owes money & doesn’t file & pay on time there are penalty fees. Two fees to be aware of are the late payment fee and the filing after the deadline fee.

Late payment fee: Late payment penalty is usually ½ of 1% of any tax not paid by deadline. It is charged for each month or part of a month the tax is unpaid.  Maximum 25%.  You can avoid this penalty if you pay at least 90% of amount owed by deadline (this gives you an extension) and then pay the rest by the extension deadline – October 16, 2017.

Filing Late: Failure to file penalty aka penalty for filing after the deadline is usually 5% of the amount due for each month or part of month your return is late. Maximum penalty is 25%. After 60 days the minimum penalty is $205 or the balance on the return whichever is smaller.

Eliminate or Reduce Fess

If you can pay some or all of your tax liability go to and find out about payment options. They include paying electronically (no fees), installment plans, or paying by credit card.

If you cannot pay any of the amount owed, you can still request to extend the deadline to Oct 16, 2017.  You can either use free file software or complete Form 4868. More information is available at  Filing an extension will eliminate the failure to file penalty, but not necessarily the late payment fees.

Credit for Your Retirement Savings Contributions

You may be eligible for a tax credit if you make contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement plan or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

A tax credit directly reduces the amount of federal income tax that you are required to pay. Example: Federal income tax liability is $600 and you’re eligible for a $200 Savers Credit. Your tax liability is decreased to $400. In this example you could receive a $200 boost in your refund or a $200 deduction in the amount you need to pay when you file your tax return.

Savers Credit Eligibility Requirements
You are eligible for the credit if you’re age 18 or older, not a full-time student, not claimed as someone’s dependent, and within the income limits.

2017 Income Limits:
-Single, married filing separately, or qualifying widow(er), with income up to $31,000.

-Head of Household with income up to $46,500.

– Married Filing Jointly, with incomes up to $62,000.

The amount of the credit is 50%, 20% or 10% of your retirement plan or IRA contributions up to $2,000 ($4,000 if married filing jointly), depending on your adjusted gross income.

Example: Married couple and they file a joint return. Their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) in 2017 is $55,000. (AGI is less than taxable income and is on the last line of page 1 of your 1040 tax return form).  If they contribute $1,000 to an IRA, the government will give them a $100 credit.

For more information about income limits and credit amounts visit

Upcoming Personal Webinars: Live, Interactive, Online Classes

Hillsborough County Extension invites you to participate in these online personal finance classes. Register using the links below. All are free.

Time for all is 12:00pm – 1:00pm EST.

What: Managing Student Loan Debt
When: Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017
Description: We will discuss and compare payment options, demonstrate tools to estimate payments, and provide information about Public Loan Forgiveness.

What: Saving is a Family Affair Webinar
When: Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST
Description: Whether you are single, married, married with children, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle – saving for the future is important. We will discuss how everyone in the family can make and contribute to financial goals such as education, independent living, or other future goals.

This webinar is presented by University of Florida/IFAS Extension in partnership with Hillsborough County Extension and Seminole County Extension. This webinar is a partnership of the Tampa Bay Saves and Florida Saves campaigns.

What: Spring Clean Your Finances
When: Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Description: Discussion will include essential documents, how to long to keep, consolidating accounts, reducing fees and organizing financial papers.

Share Your Savings Goals and a Chance to Win $1,000 in the # IMSavingFor Contest

For many years, University of Florida Extension has partnered with Consumer Federation of America in the America Saves Initiative. The goal is to motivate residents to take small steps to increase their financial stability by increasing their savings or decreasing their debt.

To celebrate the upcoming America Saves Week (Feb. 27-March 4, 2017), America Saves is launching the #ImSavingFor contest. It’s easy to enter. Just share a short video of your savings story, or a picture of you and what you are saving for and enter to win $1,000 at

How to enter:

  • Create a short video featuring your savings story by answering at least one of these questions: What are you saving for? What is your savings story and how can it help other people? What is your favorite savings tip or trick?
  • Or take picture illustrating your savings goal
  • Enter to win at
  • Share your video or photo on social media with the hashtag #ImSavingFor

Get creative!

  • Keep it simple by taking a video or picture in front of the item your savings for – like a new car or house
  • Use a video or photo editing tool to put yourself in the frame with your goal – like a trip to the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore
  • Use an app to add a caption or some character to your submission

Bonus chances to win:
You can only enter once per person, but you can get an extra three entries by taking the next step in saving and completing the America Saves Pledge to create a simple savings plan. After entering, look for an email with your bonus opportunity information.

The contest runs from February 1 – April 7, 2017. America Saves will pick one entry at random on March 10 and contact them by email. Click here for the full official rules.