On Our Minds

Tax Season Means Scam Season

Although scam artists are working year-round to steal your identify and compromise your personal information, tax season seems to bring out the worst. Scammers are looking to steal tax documents, file fraudulent returns in victims’ names, and extort payment with false threats of IRS action due to outstanding tax bills.

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Has Your Email Account Been Hacked?

Unfortunately, email hacking is one of the most common instances of cybercrime these days and something that probably has affected all of us at one point or another. Fraudsters are becoming increasingly virulent in their ability to hack into your email.

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Happy (SECURE Act) 2020!

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, better known as the SECURE Act, is so new that estate planners and accountants are still learning ways to plan around it to minimize the impact on existing and future clients. Following are some items to ponder as you review your estate plans through the year.

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4th Quarter 2019 Investment Update

Supported by stable interest rates and optimism regarding the China trade negotiations, the S&P 500 Index rose 28.9% and the Nasdaq Index, with its high information technology weighting, rose 33% for the year. Enthusiasm and expectations for a better economy and strengthening earnings grew as the year progressed. Current equity market valuations look historically elevated with an overall 18x expected Price-to-Earnings ratio, but with few attractive investment alternatives, the financial market gains can continue. There is still over $1 trillion in private equity and hedge fund cash ready to be invested, so even a minor correction would be met with supportive technical buying. The rally was concentrated in the Large Cap technology growth stocks with Mid Cap and Small Cap stocks generally up less significantly. Value stocks like financials, consumer staples, energy and utilities – which are not expected to have significant earnings growth – underperformed during the year.

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Estate planning and your pet: Should you consider a Pet Trust?

We share our homes, our beds and our hearts with our pets. Is it any wonder we treat them as if they were our children? For some people, pets are the only family member providing love, affection, entertainment, a listening ear and a reason to get up in the morning. They ask for no more than a place to live, to be well fed, cared for and loved – and if you spoil your pets as badly as I do, a lot of tummy rubs. What they give us in return is “priceless.”

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Getting a Handle on Business Expenses

Expenses can be the bane of an owner of any size business. When expenses get out of hand, you may be tempted to start whacking away at everything that’s costing you money.

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“Be Prepared” for Hiking the Investment Trail

Samuel A. Kiburz, who serves as Scoutmaster for a Boy Scout Troop in Punta Gorda and Portfolio Manager at Charlotte State Bank & Trust, sees several similarities between the two callings. He described those parallels in a column he wrote after taking his troop to a summer camp in the Ocala National Forest.

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