Did you know you have three years to claim a refund from the IRS?  Know what happens if you are owed a refund and don’t claim it? Yep, Uncle Sam keeps it, and you lose it forever. Why are we bringing this up? Well, almost one million taxpayers are owed a refund for the 2020 tax year for a total of $1 billion, according to the IRS. You need to file for it before May 17, 2024. How do you find out? Go to this website and follow the instructions.


Most of us have now filed our taxes for 2023, and we check that burden off our list until next year. But we must be diligent in watching out for scammers pretending to be our “friends” from the IRS, as they work all year to take advantage of unsuspecting taxpayers, especially the elderly.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the IRS does not call taxpayers or send emails about your taxes. It sends correspondence the old-fashioned way—through the mail. If you get that call saying you owe back taxes and don’t pay immediately, please just hang up. If you can block calls on your home or mobile phone, do so.

In this age of identity theft, it is not unusual for a scammer to file a tax return in your name before you do to get a refund. When you file your real tax return, the IRS will write and ask why you filed twice. This is a real hassle to unwind, as anyone who has gone through it will tell you. The only way to potentially avoid this is to file as early as you can. For all computers, you want to make sure you have up-to-date virus software, use complicated passwords, and use two-factor authentication.


In this world where instant messaging is all the rage and texting has become a much easier way to communicate than email, it is not unusual for a ProVise financial planner to receive a text from a client. Who wants to go to a computer to send an email when you have your phone right in front of you wherever you are? But instead of texting back, you get an email or a phone call from ProVise.

What the heck is wrong with you folks over at ProVise? Haven’t you learned to text? One of the many rules that exist in our business is an SEC requirement that we capture all correspondence between us and you. In fact, even when we converse with colleagues in writing, we need to capture that correspondence.

While there are programs that can capture texts for our records, we have found that it is safer from both a business and personal level to not permit texting about business. It is okay for us to text you about social plans but not about business. Thus, please do not become frustrated when we call or email you a response. Thank you for your understanding.


First, when was the last time you visited with your financial planner and attorney about your estate plan? We bet it has been more than five years. If so, you should review the plan and make sure that what you want to happen at your demise is still what you want to happen.

Next, consider who will be your executor and/or successor trustee. Often, it is a family member or close friend, and usually, they will not charge much, if anything, to help settle the estate. But for whatever reason, you may want to hire a professional (attorney, CPA, or trust company) to act on your behalf in settling the estate. Usually, your legal documents will say they should be paid “the usual and customary charge.” Do you know what the “usual and customary” charge really will be? We recently became aware of a trust company that wanted to charge a flat fee of 1.5% on the gross value of the estate. To our way of thinking, this fee was too high given the work that needed to be done. Negotiate the fee in advance to your satisfaction and get it in writing.

Thirdly, most people with children want the estate proceeds divided equally, but does that always work out? Often not. Consider the $2 million in your IRA divided equally between your children. The one in Florida is going to end up with more to spend than the one in New York and the other in California, both of which have a state income tax, while Florida does not. How about that second home in North Carolina worth a million dollars which you give to one child while another gets $1 million in stocks and bonds. The NC home comes with taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs while the second child can enjoy supplementing retirement with the additional assets. We can give you a bunch of other examples. Much like in a divorce, dividing assets in an estate equally does not always mean it is also equitable.

Finally, we encourage most clients to sit down with the family before death to explain what will happen when the last of the parents passes. It can be done at a very high level or be very detailed. The choice is yours. Either way, it often helps avoid questions after you are gone.


In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the career choices of young Americans, particularly those belonging to Generation Z (born 1997-2012). The WSJ reports that there is currently a labor shortage in the skilled trades sector such as plumbing, welding and construction, creating opportunities for young workers to fill the gap. Gen Z workers are attracted to these jobs due to the prospect of higher wages and a more direct career path. Furthermore, there is a growing disenchantment with the traditional college route, with many questioning the necessity of accumulating significant student debt for degrees that may not lead to fulfilling career opportunities.

Perhaps the biggest reason why Gen Z workers are appealing to employers in the skilled trades sector is their necessity. With infrastructure projects on the rise and a large number of baby boomers retiring from these industries, there is a pressing need for young, skilled workers to step in and fill the void. Additionally, advancements in technology are reshaping the image of trade jobs, making them more appealing to a new generation of workers. Students and parents alike will be happy to hear that they can use their 529 plans to cover many of the costs associated with vocational or trade school.

In terms of pay, skilled-trade jobs can offer competitive salaries, with some new hires in the construction industry earning more than their counterparts in professional services. Additionally, trade careers provide a sense of job security, as they are less vulnerable to automation and outsourcing compared to some white-collar professions.

As the job market continues to evolve, it’s clear that the skilled trades are experiencing a resurgence in popularity among the younger generation. With their blend of hands-on skills, technological innovation, and promising career prospects, trade jobs are proving to be a compelling option for Gen Z individuals looking to forge their own path in the workforce.


Thanks to the pandemic, but mostly Congress, the debt owed by the United States has risen to unthinkable levels. Today, it is approaching $35 trillion. Soon, the interest costs on our debt will be greater than what we spend on our country’s defense. Currently, the national debt equals about 99% of GDP and it is expected to increase to 116% over the next ten years and to 166% by 2054.

In the upcoming presidential election, our debt will be a major topic of conversation. Yes, both candidates will talk a good game, but neither has a concrete plan to lower deficit spending dramatically let alone balance the budget over time. Forget the idea of paying off part of the debt.

Medicare will run out of enough money to pay its bills by 2031 and will have to cut payments by 13% which will be devastating to providers and consumers. Social Security is not far behind as it will run out of money in the trust fund in 2033 which means a 23% cut in benefits. As for Medicare, it already taxes all earned income so the tax will have to be raised, pure and simple, or it must find other income to tax – think investment income and/or net worth.

Social Security needs to do the same, although it has other options like raising the age to receive benefits, or not making inflation adjustments to some recipients – think wealthy. All these issues come with the political peril of not getting re-elected. Somehow, in some way, we need to accept raising more tax revenue and fewer benefits, otherwise, the alternative is not pretty. (Source: Kiplinger Letter, Vol 101, No. 15)


The problem of sophisticated “spoofed” websites that are designed to convince users that they are visiting sites owned by legitimate businesses, like Charles Schwab, is a growing threat. To warn our clients and friends about these threats, we’ve created several talking points. 

One of the fastest-growing scams aimed at investors involves creating fake but very convincing websites that appear to be run by legitimate businesses, including the financial institutions you rely on. To spoof a website, bad actors purchase “sponsored links” to fake sites appearing at the top of search results. Their goal is to boost their site’s visibility and lure unsuspecting users into clicking on them. These deceptive sites can pose serious risks by exposing investors like you to potential malware, identity theft, and financial loss. Not to worry! We’re here to arm you with knowledge so you can recognize spoofed websites and steer clear of them.

Here’s what to watch for:

URL errors and issues: Look for misspellings or unusual domain extensions. A single letter out of place might mean you’re on a fake site.

Grammar and spelling mistakes: Legitimate sites take care to avoid errors. If you spot poor grammar, spelling, or formatting mistakes in content, that’s often your first clue it’s a fake site.

False security notification: Once you click on a site link, you’re presented with a screen notifying you of a login issue and directing you to a hotline number. Wording on these fake sites may mention “unauthorized activity” or other details designed to trigger anxiety and panic.

Request for personal information: Schwab will never ask you over the phone for your account login password. If someone is asking you for your account login password by phone, do not provide it.

Privacy policy: Genuine sites will have a privacy policy available. If it’s missing, think twice. 

Here’s how to protect yourself:

Avoid searching for a site: Use your saved bookmarks for visiting websites, especially financial ones, to avoid the risk of phishing and downloading malware.

Question urgency: Phishing attempts often create a sense of urgency. Take a moment to verify the information through official channels.

Use secure networks: Access financial accounts only through secure networks and consider enabling multi-factor authentication where possible.

Call before acting: If you have concerns about a site or link, it’s always best to call us at 727-441-9022 or at our ProVise email before taking any action, like downloading software.

We hope you continue to stay safe and well.

Proudly and successfully serving our clients for over 38 years. As always, we encourage you to call or email us if you would like to discuss anything.


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