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Showing posts from January, 2015

Converting a Home to a Rental

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A simple decision to rent your current home instead of selling it when moving to a new home could have far reaching consequences. If you have a considerable gain, in a principal residence and you rent it for more than three years, it can lose the principal residence status and the profit must be recognized. Section 121 provides the exclusion of capital gain on a principal residence if you own and use it as such for two out of the last five years.  This would allow a temporary rental for up to three years before the exclusion is lost. Let’s assume there is a $100,000 gain in your principal residence.  If it qualifies for the exclusion, no tax would be owed. If the property had been converted to a rental so that it didn’t qualify any longer, the gain would be taxed at the current 20% long-term capital gains rate and it may incur a 3.8% surcharge for higher tax brackets.  At least $20,000 in taxes could be avoided by selling it with the principal residence exclusion. Depreciation…

Get Ready to Garage Sale

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A well-planned garage or yard sale can make room in your home, get rid of unused items and make some money but it needs some planning to be successful. Start early to research and plan Promotion is key Display items attractively Price items right Organize checkout Saturdays are generally the best day but there may be some exceptions.  Experienced garage-salers believe that a well-planned one-day event will do as well as a multi-day event.  Serious purchasers will look for the “new” sale and most people don’t come back multiple days. Advertise in local newspapers and free online classified sites like craigslist.  If several families are going together for the sale, mention that in the ad; it will be a big draw.  Mention your bigger-ticket items like furniture, equipment and baby items. Garage sale signs can be purchased or made at Staples, Fedex Office or Kwik Signs.  Signs need large lettering so they’re easy to read while people are driving. Most i…

Downsizing Might Make Sense

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With roughly 12.5% of the population over 65 years of age, it is understandable that some of them are thinking of downsizing because they may not need the amount of space they did in the past.  There is something to be said for the freedom acquired by divesting yourself of “things” that have been accumulated over the years but are no longer needed. Moving to a less expensive home, could provide cash that could be invested for additional income or savings for unanticipated expenditures. Savings can also be recognized in the lower utility costs associated with a smaller home, not to mention, the lower premiums for insurance and property taxes. Going from the home where you reared your family to one of the new tiny homes may be a bit extreme but downsizing to 2/3 or 50% of your current home may certainly be reasonable.  In some situations, your interests may have changed so that a different area or city might be a possibility. At one time, IRS had a once-in-a-lifetime exclusion of …

Reducing Interest Expense

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0% financing has induced car buyers into taking the plunge because it doesn’t cost anything to use someone else’s money.  While mortgage rates are not at zero, they’re close enough that many buyers are applying similar logic. Qualified mortgage interest is deductible on taxpayers' returns subject to the maximum acquisition debt of one million dollars.  For the fortunate homeowners who have paid off their mortgage, their acquisition debt was reduced to zero and only the interest on a maximum home equity debt of $100,000 is deductible. If you have to pay interest, deductible interest is preferable because it reduces your actual cost. Consider the following example of a taxpayer with a $500,000 debt-free home.  If they did an 80% cash-out refinance of $400,000, $100,000 would be considered home equity debt and the interest on that would be deductible on their income tax.  The other $300,000 of debt is considered personal debt and the interest is not deductible. However, becau…