— St. Petersburg, Fla. — For 50 years, tens of thousands of AARP Foundation volunteers nationwide and nearly 3,000 from across Florida have made older taxpayers a great offer: They’ll help you prepare your annual federal income tax returns – and they’ll do it for free. Starting Feb. 1 through April 17, AARP Foundation will do it again. AARP Foundation volunteers will provide free tax assistance and preparation through its Tax-Aide program. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is the nation’s largest free tax …

— If you’ve been baffled by your utilities bill — and wondered who makes the rules for Florida power companies — you’re not alone. Millions of Florida residents find utilities issues hard to follow. Regulated by a far-away, low-profile state agency, largely the domain of expensive utilities lawyers and powerful corporations, electric utilities regulations often isn’t familiar ground for consumers. That’s one big reason why AARP Florida has been a leading voice fighting for consumers on utilities across the state and …

5 States

— AARP Florida Director Jeff Johnson warned hundreds of thousands of older Floridians Wednesday that they could lose thousands of dollars in income-tax deductions next year if Congress moves ahead with a U.S. House plan to impose a “health tax.” A House tax plan adopted last month would eliminate a current feature of tax law that allows Americans to deduct some of the cost of high medical expenses from their taxable income. As of 2017, taxpayers can deduct qualified medical expenses …

— According to recent data, a couple retiring this year looks to spend an average of $275,000 on healthcare throughout the course of their retirement. Health care costs are rising faster than inflation and the overall economy, with one in five families reporting difficulty paying medical bills. If you are over the age of 60 and are experiencing financial insecurity from these rising health care costs, SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) is a free program that may be able …

5 States

— UPDATED: Sept. 12, 2017 (Original post Sept. 15, 2016) TALLAHASSEE – Homeowners beware! Unscrupulous contractors are conning residents into surrendering their home insurance policy claim rights and benefits. In the wake of Hurricane Irma, these instances are sure to grow. Here’s how it works: 1) You get a contractor to agree to repair your home damage. 2) The dishonest contractor convinces you to transfer an Assignment of Benefit agreement in the contractor’s name. 3) The contractor then uses this to …

— Floridians, do you collect Social Security? A new scam is targeting YOU. How It Works: A scammer calls from a 323 area code, posing as a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee. In some instances, the scammer tells the victim he or she is due a cost-of-living adjustment increase in their Social Security benefit. The caller then tries to get the victim to “verify” their Social Security number, name, date of birth, parents’ name and other personal information.If the scammer succeeds, …

— Fellow Floridians, IRS imposters are at their old game—but with a new twist. The IRS reports that this current scam is being reported across the country. How It Works: Scammers call taxpayers to claim the IRS has already mailed them two certified letters about an outstanding tax bill, but the letters were returned as undeliverable. The scammer threatens immediate arrest unless the tax bill is paid using a prepaid debit card. The scammer falsely contends that the prepaid debit card …

4 States

— Tallahassee, Fla.  – AARP Florida will oppose legislative proposals that would allow Florida electric utility companies, including Florida Power & Light, to use residential customers’ money to finance exploration and drilling ventures seeking natural gas in other states. AARP’s Florida advocacy manager, Jack McRay, announced AARP’s position in remarks before the Florida Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities committee Tuesday.  The committee is one of several state legislative committees considering SB 1238, by Sen. Aaron Beach, R-Jacksonville. Its companion bill …

— By Michelle Cerulli McAdams Others may dread tax season, but Rebecca Bachman, of Homosassa, says she looks forward to it every year. As a volunteer tax preparer and a state coordinator for the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program in Florida, Bachman, 68, has been helping residents file their taxes since joining the program in 1998. She is one of approximately 3,000 Tax-Aide volunteers in the state and about 35,000 volunteers nationwide. “There are lots of hugs exchanged. People are so grateful,” …

Affordable Utilities Now!

— St. Petersburg, Fla. – AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson issued the following statement urging AARP members and other consumers in the Panhandle to raise their voices on a proposed $106.8 million Gulf Power Co. rate increase. “AARP believes this proposed rate increase asks too much of residential ratepayers,” Johnson said.  The Gulf Power proposal would increase the fixed charge portion of bill, he noted, which is the amount that ratepayers pay regardless of whether they use any electricity. “That …