The happenings "inside" the Wisconsin State Treasury and across the street at the State Capitol

Archive for April, 2011

529’s and Financial Aid Sessions at NAST Symposium


Wisconsin’s 529 College Savings Program Director Jim DiUlio will be part of a panel discussion at the National Association State Treasurers’ Training Symposium in Atlanta on May 4.  The session will discuss current news in financial aid and will be led by Jill Raynor ofNorthGeorgiaCollegeandStateUniversity, with assistance from Jim.

Jim has been a national leader on financial issues during his time with the State Treasurer’s Office as well as prior to serving the State ofWisconsin. Jim served as a registered securities principal with WEA Trust, working with employer retirement plans and employee groups atWisconsin’s 400-plus public schools and colleges.  He is a frequent speaker and panelist on financial issues. As the Director of Wisconsin’s 529 College Savings Program, which includes EdVest and other plans, he handles administrative duties for the more than $2.7 billion invested by families for higher education expenses.

The financial aid session will be part of the College Savings Plan Network meetings of 529 plan administrators.  Both ofWisconsin’s 529 plans—EdVest and Tomorrow’s Scholar—are participants in the national network.

There are many reasons my staff is asked to present at these symposiums: dedication to serving constituents as well as knowledge and expertise in their fields.

If you want more information about Wisconsin’s 529 College Savings Program, visit www.edvest.com. You can also sign up for an account in less than 5 minutes!

Advertisements

The New Era of Public Outreach and Awareness


My Community Services Specialist, Ron Giordan, has been asked to present on a panel at the upcoming National Association of State Treasurers Management Training Symposium. He will be joined by Brooke Bredel, a PR and Marketing Specialist for the Virginia Treasury, to help train other state treasury employees on new techniques for marketing government agencies. The panel discussion is titled The New Era of Public Outreach and Awareness: In a time when newspapers and other traditional media such as radio and television are in decline, state agencies are turning to a new type of staff position – marketing professional. They are developing innovative approaches to keep unclaimed property programs relevant in reaching constituents. Learn how to promote unclaimed property through social media and other non-traditional outlets to get outstanding results.

Ron was chosen because in the past year and half, he has established an outreach and awareness campaign for Office of the State Treasurer that has maximized our exposure in the new media world – social media, website, blogs, internet videos, internet news gathering, etc. Prior to coming to the State, Ron worked as a television news producer and newsroom manager at TV Stations across the country and is using those skills to take this office into the new era of public advocacy that involves more than just sending news releases to outlets about what we are doing here.

The Office of State Treasurer has 3 Facebook pages; Unclaimed Property, EdVest and my own, Wisconsin S

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

tate Treasurer Kurt Schuller. We also have 2 Twitter accounts, @WIStateTreasury and @WITreasSchuller, this blog and a YouTube Channel. Our goal in establishing ourselves in these social media platforms is to allow us to hold conversations with the people we serve: the citizens of Wisconsin. We can be transparent with social media and offer instant help to our constituents while letting them know, instantly, about what’s happening at the office or what’s happening in the world of government in their own state and across the country.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Ron will be live tweeting from the program Monday May 2, 2011. You can follow it at #NASTsocialmedia starting at 8am central time.

Being asked to present is a credit to the hard-working staff I have here at the Wisconsin State Treasury. They are recognized nationwide for their innovation and work ethic and I am proud to be here with them.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

In tomorrow’s blog, another Treasury employee will be presenting at the symposium. What he’ll be teaching others when it comes to College Savings Plans.


$33 million for school libraries


Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining my fellow commissioners on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Secretary of State Doug La Follette, to present a check for $33 million to DPI Superintendent Tony Evers on behalf of the Common School Trust Fund.

The Common School Trust Fund is the largest of the trust funds that utilize the State Trust Fund Loan Program to invest principal in loans to municipalities and school districts. Over 95% of the interest on that principal goes directly to public school libraries. So in addition to providing aid to public schools to pay for library books and computers, the Common School Trust Fund helps communities finance bus purchases, economic development, construction, road maintenance, and a variety of other public purposes. Over the last year, the State Trust Fund Loan Program loaned more than $224 million to municipalities and school districts for these public projects – this support is critical forWisconsin, and I am glad to play a part in the development of municipalities, and the education of our kids.

I am very proud to say that the $15 million in Unclaimed Property proceeds that my office forwarded last year represents the second largest addition to the Common School Trust Fund, and we are well on our way to another great year.


Tax Day is here.


Tax day is upon us, and for those of you who haven’t filed, time is running out.

Below are links to the IRS website, as well as Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue. You can use either site to file your taxes:

http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html?portlet=1

http://www.revenue.wi.gov/wi_efile/index.html

If you’re curious about taxation in Wisconsin, or would like to know where your tax money goes (and how long it takes to earn it), take a look at the sites below:

http://www.wistax.org/

http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxfreedomday/


Haven’t paid your taxes yet? You have until Monday.


Just a quick reminder – taxes must be postmarked by Monday, April 18th this year, so if you haven’t filed yet, you still have some time – but not much!


A Tax Change to “Grandparent Gifts” for EdVest


Wisconsin’s 529 college savings plans are among the few in the country that allow additional state tax deductions for grandparents, aunts, and uncles when they make contributions toward a child’s education, along with the more usual parent contribution.  Both EdVest and Tomorrow’s Scholar allow either single or joint taxpayers up to $3,000 a year for each beneficiary or child.

However, an interpretation by the state Department of Revenue (DOR) changes the procedure slightly.  Typically, grandparents write a check at birthdays and other occasions, adding the gift to an existing savings account the parent owns.  They could then take the Wisconsin deduction, independently of what the parent could deduct.  In a recent statement, DOR now says the grandparent has to own a separate account to take the state tax deduction.

Since EdVest currently waives account fees for Wisconsin residents, the only cost to grandparents, aunts, and uncles is the few minutes to open a new account naming the child as beneficiary.  A beneficiary can have multiple 529 accounts, drawing from each as needed or consolidated at some point.  The deduction privilege has not changed, just the procedure.

The 529 program’s staff is currently looking at changes in statutes or rules to simplify the process.  Call the office at 608-264-7886 if you need further information.


One Week To File Your Taxes!


You have one week to file your Federal and State taxes – it has been extended from Friday the 15th to April 18th this year. Hopefully, many of you have already filed and gotten returns. But, there are many that might owe and want to wait till the very end to file and give that cash to the government…so here are some helpful reminders about filing Wisconsin taxes.

Homestead Credit

If you meet the income limit, which for 2009 was $24,000 and can change every year, you may be able to take the homestead credit if you owned a home or rented a nursing home room, mobile home, rented room, apartment or house. Your landlord must fill out a rent certificate before you can claim the homestead credit. If you lived with a roommate, you must fill out the bottom section of the rent certificate to show how much you each paid. Homeowners must provide a property tax bill along with the rent certificate. You do not need a qualifying child to claim the credit.

File for free and what to File

The state of Wisconsin allows taxpayers to file their states tax for free. You can file your federal tax online at one of the Internal Revenue Service sponsor companies for free if you meet the requirements and omit the state, which most make you pay a fee to file. After e-filing the federal taxes, go to the Wisconsin e-file website and file your state taxes for free.

Wisconsin has four forms for filing individual income taxes. Form WI-Z is for filers who used the federal 1040EZ and are under the age of 65, have no active military duty, no interest from municipal, state or U.S. bonds, did not receive unemployment benefits, will not claim credits except for married couple credit, working family credit and rent paid. Form 1A is for filers who were Wisconsin residents all year, have no deductions for student loans, medical care insurance or IRA’s and do not claim itemized deductions or subject to penalties for early withdrawals from retirement funds or medical savings accounts. Form 1NPR is for filers who are out of the state for a time or a spouse was out of state for a time. Form 1 is for filers who don’t qualify for other forms and have adjustments or credits that cannot be taken on other forms.

Sources of Taxable Income

• Wages, salaries, commissions

• Rents and royalties from property in Wisconsin

• Gains or losses from sales of property in Wisconsin,

• Profits or losses from businesses, professions, and farming in Wisconsin

• Income from the Wisconsin state lottery

• Gambling winnings from places that reside on Native American land

Need more help, forms or instructions? Visit http://www.dor.state.wi.us/html/formpub.html