Treasurer’s Top 10: Wyandotte County

This week, we highlight Wyandotte County! Here’s a look at the Top 10 people and businesses there with unclaimed assets. Do you know anyone below?Wyandotte Courthouse

If so, have them check out www.kansascash.com  and search their name to make a claim. They can also call 800-432-0386 (toll-free) or 785-296-4165.

1. Pamela Sturm
2. Kent Elliott
3. Clayton & Alice Hill
4. Sid Kuzecki
5. Robert Helm
6. Machinery & Supplies Company
7. Robert Collins
8. William Sykes
9. Florence Davis
10. Mary Caldwell

Money Matters: 5 Smart Uses for Your Tax Return

Tax RefundBy Amy Fontinelle, Investopedia

Even when we expect our tax returns to bring a refund, we all dread preparing for the tax deadline. The arcane tax forms, instructions few can decipher and our increasingly complex financial situations make each year’s return seem more painstaking than the last.

Many personal finance experts recommend adjusting your withholding so that you don’t get a refund check in the spring (arguing that this amounts to giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan for several months) when you could be putting that money to immediate use. However, for some people, having the government hold their money for them is the easiest way to accomplish their savings goals.

Tutorial: Personal Income Tax Guide

But wait! If you don’t have a plan for the money when that refund check comes, it could be all too easy to spend it. Instead of succumbing to impulse, consider these five options for letting the savings you accumulated last year bring you greater financial security and peace of mind in the years to come.

1. Pay Down Debt
If you have high-interest credit card debt, putting your tax refund check towards paying it off will likely give you greater returns than any other option. That’s because when the balance you owe to credit card companies goes down, the interest (or finance charges) you have to pay on that debt also goes down. Depending on your interest rate, you’ll be saving anywhere from 10% to 29% per year in interest on any portion of your balance that you manage to wipe out. The simple act of using your refund to pay off an extra $1,000 of debt this year could save you hundreds of dollars in future finance charges.

SEE: Understanding Credit Card Interest

2. Fund Your Emergency Savings
If you’re fortunate enough to not have any credit card or other high-interest debt, put yourself in a stronger position to stay that way by putting your refund check into your emergency savings account. This special savings account will allow you to cover any expenses in case of an emergency, such as being laid off from work or faced with unexpected medical bills. Instead of borrowing money from credit card companies at high rates or paying interest and penalties on a loan from your 401(k), a well-funded emergency savings account will put you in a position to lend yourself the money for free without jeopardizing your credit score or your retirement. Most people need the equivalent of at least three months’ salary in an emergency fund to feel comfortable.

SEE: Build Yourself An Emergency Fund

3. Save for Retirement
If your credit card debt is non-existent and you’ve got several months worth of living expenses saved up, consider yourself ahead of the pack. To strengthen your financial position even further, consider putting your tax refund check into a Traditional or Roth IRA. If you don’t already have an IRA established, why not use this opportunity to start one?

As long as you meet certain income requirements as defined by the IRS, you’re entitled to open a Roth IRA even if you already have a 401(k), 403(b), or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.

4. Invest in Real Estate
If you don’t yet own your own home but would like to some day, now is the time to start working toward that goal. Having learned the lessons of the housing bubble, over the next few years, many potential homebuyers will be in a great position to take advantage of depressed housing prices and non-predatory loans. If you’re already a mortgage holder, paying off your mortgage principal early can help you save money in interest. Check with your mortgage lender to see what early payoff options are available under your loan terms.

SEE: Why Housing Market Bubbles Pop

5. Start a College Savings Fund
It’s never too early to start saving for your children’s tuition bills. The earlier you start, the less you’ll need to save, because compound interest and time will do much of the work for you. If you happen to save up four years’ worth of tuition early, you can always start putting your extra money towards college funds for books, computers and the like. A common tuition savings plan, called a section 529 plan, allows you to prepay qualified higher education expenses at eligible institutions. Not all 529 plans are the same, so you’ll want to do some research to see which would be the best fit for your family. Another option is a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA). This tax-deferred account will help you accelerate your savings.

The Bottom Line
While none of these options are as glamorous as purchasing a flat-screen TV, remodeling your kitchen or cruising to Hawaii, giving yourself the kind of financial security that lets you breathe easy even in times of crisis will provide you with a cool composure that never goes out of style.

State Treasurer Ron Estes Explains Pension Bonding for KPERS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2015

Pension Bonding for KPERS by Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes

It’s no secret that over the past 20 plus years the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS) has been allowed to develop a large unfunded liability. The system has a total unfunded balance of $9.7 billion, $7.3 billion of which the state is paying for – contributions for state employees and K-12 school employees. The remaining liability is for local government employees, police officers, fire fighters, and judges. Now the question is “How do we best pay to fix this existing liability, or to use another term, this existing debt?

In 2012 the Legislature and Governor Brownback finally were able to pass legislation to begin to bring the system back. This fix involved rapidly increasing contributions over the next 20 years.

During this legislative session the use of pension obligation bonds to offset the cost of KPERS has been a major topic of discussion. The House and the Senate each have bills to authorize issuing these bonds. The state issued bonds would go toward reducing the unfunded liability for state employees and K-12 school employees. This is not new debt; the obligation already exists. It is like refinancing a variable rate mortgage so part of the unfunded liability is paid by locking in today’s lower interest rates.

Essentially the House bill will allow the state to refinance $1.5 billion by issuing bonds in the bond market and investing the proceeds from those bonds into the Kansas Public Employees Trust Fund. In doing so, the proceeds would be combined with the trust fund’s additional investments to increase potential earnings.

It’s a solution that is aimed at saving taxpayers money over the long run. It is projected that the state would pay approximately 4.4 percent in interest on the bonds, based on current market rates. During the last several 30-year rolling periods, the KPERS trust fund had an average earning over eight percent.

It’s a method our state has used successfully before. In 2004, the state issued $500 million in pension bonds at a 5.39 percent interest rate. Since then the KPERS fund has earned an average 7.45 percent interest on those investments, resulting in $174 million of profit for the state.

Of course the use of pension obligation bonds to pay down the funding gap in our pension plan has generated concern. Understandably so, this approach is generally not the preferred solution to settle a debt. However, measures will be taken to mitigate those associated risks. Let me explain….

– These pension bonds are not a new obligation for the state, but actually do lock in a payment plan at a less expensive cost.

– Debt payments for these bonds would come directly from the state general fund and not from the KPERS trust fund. In other words….KPERS will benefit from the funds provided by the bonds.

– This bonding approach does not have some of the issues that states like Illinois or cities like Detroit or Stockton created. Our bond proceeds will be in addition to state contributions, not replacing them. The bond proceeds will go directly to the KPERS trust fund, and not into the general fund.

With these measures in place, I believe the bonds will help us reach our goal of being 80 percent fully funded by 2022–three years earlier than originally planned during the 2012 legislature’s pension reform.

Ron Estes is the 39th state treasurer for the state of Kansas and is the first state-wide elected official from the city of Wichita in 20 years. He was elected to serve as the Midwest Regional Vice President for the National Association of State Treasurers 2012-2013, and now serves on the College Savings Plans Network Executive Board. Ron has also served as Sedgwick County Treasurer and as the treasurer for the Kansas County Treasurers’ Association. He was born in Topeka and is a fifth-generation Kansan. His family continues to run a farm in Osage County. Ron and his wife, Susan, have three children.

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Treasurer’s Top 10: Hamilton County

This week, we highlight Hamilton County! Here’s a look at the Top 10 people and businesses there with unclaimed assets. Do you know anyone below?

Hamilton County Courthouse

Hamilton County Courthouse

If so, have them check out www.kansascash.com  and search their name to make a claim. They can also call 800-432-0386 (toll-free) or 785-296-4165.

  1. Minnie Kell
  2. John O Seal
  3. Lewis Land Company
  4. Iola Behrendt
  5. David I. Brownlee
  6. John M. Miles
  7. Ethel V. Tope
  8. Knott Construction
  9. Wendell Householder & Helen Householder
  10. Richard Ortez

Money Matters: How to Guard Against Child Identity Theft

Identity Thieves Target Kids as Well as Adults
By Jason Alderman, PracticalMoneySkills.com

I’m sorry to report that child identity fraud is alive and well in 2014. If anything, the problem may be worsening as identity thieves devise new methods to steal – and use – children’s personal information. Most commonly, they’ll harvest kids’ dormant Social Security numbers (SSNs) and use them to illegally obtain jobs or open fraudulent bank and credit accounts, mortgages or car loans.

Many victims don’t realize there’s a problem until they later apply for a student loan, bank account, job or apartment and are turned down because of the poor credit history someone else racked up. Some families are even hounded A Child's Painted Handsby collection agencies or arrested because the debts or criminal activities were so extreme.

There are no completely foolproof methods to protect your children’s identities, but here are some precautions you can take:

While it’s tempting to simply not register your kids for SSNs until they turn 18, that’s not practical in today’s world. For one thing, they’ll need one to be claimed as dependents on your taxes. You may also need SSNs for your kids to obtain medical coverage or government services or to open bank accounts in their names.

Because each person’s SSN is unique, it’s not uncommon for schools, healthcare providers, insurance companies, banks and others to require them as ID. However, don’t be afraid to ask:

  • Why do they need to use an SSN – is there a legal requirement?
  • Will they accept alternative identification?
  • What will happen if you don’t disclose it?
  • What security precautions do they take with personal information?
  • Will they agree not to use the SSN as your child’s personal identification number on correspondence, account statements or ID cards?

Watch for these clues your child’s personal data may have been compromised:

  • They receive preapproved credit account offers.
  • They receive calls or billing statements from collection agencies, creditors or government agencies.
  • You’re unable to open a bank account in their name because one already exists with the same SSN.
  • They’re denied credit, employment, a driver’s license or college enrollment for unknown or credit-related reasons.

Remember, there could be legitimate reasons why your child is receiving credit offers. For example, it could be a marketing outreach from an affiliate of your bank or because you opened a college fund in their name.

If you strongly suspect or have evidence that identity theft has been committed, you can:

  • File a police report and keep a copy as proof of the crime.
  • Contact the fraud units at the three major credit bureaus for instructions: Equifax (800-525-6285), Experian (888-397-3742) and TransUnion (800-680-7289).
  • Notify the Federal Trade Commission (877-438-4338), whose Identity Theft site contains information on fraud alerts, credit freezes, how to work with police and much more (www.ftc.gov).
  • Ask Social Security (800-772-1213) whether anyone has reported income using your child’s SSN. Search “Identity Theft” at www.ssa.gov for information.
  • Contact the IRS’ Identity Protection Unit (800-980-4490).

The FTC recommends contacting the three credit bureaus around your child’s 16th birthday to see whether they have credit reports on file. (There usually wouldn’t be unless they’re an authorized user on one of your accounts.) If there is a report – and it has errors due to fraud or misuse – you’ll have time to correct it before you kid needs to use credit.

Warn your kids about the dangers of revealing personal information by phone, email, or social networking. Don’t hesitate to monitor their accounts and install parental blocking software. And remember, if they share your computer, a downloaded virus could infect your accounts as well.


This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It’s always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.

State Treasurer Estes Recognized by Kansas State Firefighters Association

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 10, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. — State Treasurer Ron Estes was recognized by the Kansas State Firefighters Association (KSFFA) for his commitment to state firefighters with the Friend of the Kansas Fire Service Award Feb. 9.

“State Treasurer Ron Estes has been a true friend of the fire service,” said KSFFA Secretary Steve Hirsch. “His father, who passed away this past year, served for many years on the Fire District Board at Osage City.  When Ron was County Treasurer in Sedgwick County he was always very helpful in local administration of the distinctive license plate for firefighters issued by the state.  As state treasurer, by law, he is also a member of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System Board, and has been a welcome voice on that board for firefighters.”

“Treasurer Estes has always attended our events and all of the firefighters enjoy his company.  For these reasons the Kansas State Firefighters Association was pleased to be able to present State Treasurer Ron Estes with the Friend of the Kansas Fire Service Award,” said Hirsch.

The Kansas State Firefighters Association was founded in 1887 and represents approximately 16,000 firefighters, both volunteer and career, across Kansas.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the Kansas State Firefighters Association,” said Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes. “Members of this organization willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect our families each and every day. It’s important to me that I do what I can as state treasurer to support our service men and woman as I am forever thankful for their sacrifices.”

Ron Estes is the 39th state treasurer for the state of Kansas and is the first state-wide elected official from the city of Wichita in 20 years. He was elected to serve as the Midwest Regional Vice President for the National Association of State Treasurers 2012-2013, and now serves on the College Savings Plans Network Executive Board. Ron has also served as Sedgwick County Treasurer and as the treasurer for the Kansas County Treasurers’ Association. He was born in Topeka and is a fifth-generation Kansan. His family continues to run a farm in Osage County. Ron and his wife, Susan, have three children.

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Treasurer Ron Estes, Representative Erin Davis Introduce Bill to Create Kansas Disability Savings Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes and Representative Erin Davis (R-Olathe) introduced a bill today that would provide families with disabled children a new way to save for their children’s future.

The Kansas Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Program would allow families to cover their child’s future education, health and wellness costs, housing, transportation and related expenses in a tax-free savings account under a plan similar to the Kansas Learning Quest 529 Program that allows families to save for higher education.

Assets in ABLE accounts will be partially sheltered from asset tests for Medicaid and Social Security Disability benefits within limits established by federal legislation.

“This legislation would ease the financial burden parents face when trying to provide critical services needed to support their children living with disabilities,” said Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes.

“The Kansas ABLE Savings Program would allow parents to save tax-free for current and future disability-related expenses, which in return will help secure their child’s future without jeopardizing the child’s eligibility for important benefits,” Estes explained.

Under the Kansas ABLE Savings Program, children and adults whose disability occurred before age 26 and who meet Social Security disability standards or have a disability certification would be eligible to have an ABLE account.  Friends and relatives will be able to contribute up to $14,000 per beneficiary each year.

“Disabled advocacy groups and families have worked hard for many years to get federal legislation passed authorizing states to set up these accounts,” said State Representative Erin Davis. “I’m thankful for Treasurer Estes’ leadership in helping to move this legislation forward for the benefit of fellow Kansans.”

Ron Estes is the 39th state treasurer for the state of Kansas and is the first state-wide elected official from the city of Wichita in 20 years. He was elected to serve as the Midwest Regional Vice President for the National Association of State Treasurers 2012-2013, and now serves on the College Savings Plans Network Executive Board. Ron has also served as Sedgwick County Treasurer and as the treasurer for the Kansas County Treasurers’ Association. He was born in Topeka and is a fifth-generation Kansan. His family continues to run a farm in Osage County. Ron and his wife, Susan, have three children.

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