Category Archives: Taxes

Make Sure Money Isn’t Spilling Out Your Garage!

Make Sure Your Garage Isn’t Tacking Money On Utility Bills…

As ever-increasing home energy bills continue to plague Americans, homeowners are looking for cost-effective ways to reduce their heating and cooling costs. If your house has not been properly insulated, you may be paying more than you should to heat or cool it.

Nearly all modern homes have insulation throughout the living spaces, but garages commonly get overlooked. Because the garage is the last barrier between your home and the outdoors, it’s important to ensure the insulation is adequate. You can do a few simple things to make sure your garage is insulated properly.

First, it’s important to ensure that the door leading from your home to the garage is sealed properly.

Other areas to consider when checking your garage’s energy efficiency are the ceiling and the garage door threshold. If there is a room above your garage, it may be beneficial to bolster the insulation in the garage’s ceiling to help keep the living space above it comfortable. For the threshold, installing a rubber seal-strip on the floor where the garage door closes helps prevent air leaks, and keeps out insects and rodents.

That said, one of the most important areas to examine is the garage door itself. While installing a pre-insulated garage door can cost up to a thousand dollars or more, and requires a skilled contractor, there is a simple and inexpensive DIY solution to insulate your garage — garage door insulation kits.

Homeowners can easily insulate their existing garage doors with these kits, which are readily available in leading home improvement stores or online. These affordable and easy-to-use kits are made to fit standard garage door sizes and can be cut to fit non-standard sizes. With pre-packaged insulation, do-it-yourselfers can insulate their garage door in less than an hour, at a cost of less than $100. Kits use energy-efficient expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation panels — a rigid white foam that trims easily, is durable, offers excellent long-term insulation, and gives your garage a professionally finished look.

During fall and winter, the insulation helps keep heat inside the garage so that the furnace does not work as hard and use as much energy. In the summer, the insulation helps keep the sun’s heat at bay so the garage can stay cool. Insulating your garage also helps reduce interior noise and can earn federal tax credits as an energy-efficient upgrade (check your local energy guides for more information).

Source: The Dallas Morning NewsGetContent.asp

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Allen Texas Homes For Sale, Bartonville Real Estate, Before Buying a House, Coppell Texas Homes For Sale, Dallas Real Estate, Dallas Texas REALTOR, Double Oak, Fall, Flower Mound, Flower Mound Homes For Sale, Fort Worth Texas, Grapevine, Grapevine Texas REALTOR, Highland Village, Home Improvments, Household Budget, Lewisville, Real Estate, Southlake Texas Homes For Sale, Taxes, Texas, Texas Homes For Sale, Texas Real Estate, Uncategorized

How To Create A Household Budget!

How To Create A Household Budget!

Step 1: Write down your total take-home monthly income.
This is the easy part! Jot down what you earn. Because many expenses are billed monthly, figuring out how much you have to spend each month is easiest for your plan.

Step 2: Write down your essential expenses. Start with fixed bills like rent, mortgage, car payment, credit card debt and insurance, then factor in other monthly costs that are always the same. These are your essential fixed expenses.

Step 3: List your essential variable expenses.
You know you’ll have these bills, but the amounts vary. Examples are your phones, utilities, food, household expenses, gasoline, medication, public transportation, shoes and clothing. You can assign an estimated amount to each based on past experience, rounding to the closest $10.

Step 4: List reasonable amounts for nonessential expenses.
This includes entertainment, eating out, hobbies and other ways you spend money on a regular basis.

Step 5: Find the extras.
Go to your current method of tracking your spending (your checkbook register, credit card statements, Quicken reports) to see what expenses you’ve left out. You’ll likely see items for car maintenance and repair, gifts, vacations, Christmas and holidays. For items that do not recur monthly, determine the annual cost, then divide by 12 to see how much you should set aside each month to anticipate that irregular expense.

Step 6: Figure out your totals.
Add up your expenses, then subtract that amount from your income. With luck you’ll come out in the black, with at least a little money left over. But if your expenses exceed your income, you’ll see a negative sum. Don’t panic—this is just the start of an ongoing process.

Step 7: See where you can cut .
If you came up short, go back to your projected monthly expenses and see what you can get rid of. Look first to your nonessential expenses. Which items can you remove altogether for a while (eating out seems like a fine target; perhaps hobby expenses too, for a season)? Keep going through the list, making adjustments until your total expenses are less than your income.

Step 8: Follow your spending plan as closely as possible.
Track your spending every day by posting it on a sheet of paper. Take notes and research ways you’ll be able to do even better next month. At month’s end, add up your actual spending and compare it with what you planned. Use this information to create the next month’s spending plan.

Congratulations—you’ve just elevated yourself from being clueless to financially savvy. You should feel very good about this! As difficult as it might be to see in black and white that your income and expenses are not quite in sync, just knowing where you are is going to make all the difference.

Even if you find yourself in a particularly tight financial position right now, take heart. As you pay off debts and find more ways to cut expenses, you’ll begin to sense a significant loosening of financial pressure. Soon you’ll be ready to add new categories to your spending plan for things like saving for a new car, home improvements or going back to college.

The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be on your way to reaching financial freedom.

Source: Woman’s Day Magazineimages

Leave a comment

Filed under Credit Cards, Credit Scores, Dallas Real Estate, Flower Mound, Flower Mound Homes For Sale, Grapevine, Grapevine Texas REALTOR, Home Improvments, Household Budget, Mortgages, Real Estate, Southlake Texas Homes For Sale, Taxes, Texas, Texas Homes For Sale, Texas Real Estate

Tax Protest Time Coming To An End…

Don’t miss this chance to reduce your tax bill. Many local counties are offering on-line protests which will save you so much time. Make sure you take a moment to look into this before heading down to your local tax office.

Did the appraised value of your property go up? Do you think that value is unfair? If you answered yes to those questions, it’s time to file a protest with your central appraisal district. And don’t delay—protests in many Texas counties are due May 31.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please shoot us a message here and we will be glad to assist you.

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has posted a “Property Taxpayer Remedies” PDF that covers the basics.

The process includes:

Filing a protest with your appraisal district within the designated time period.

Attending an informal hearing to see if your differences can be quickly resolved.

Appearing before an appraisal review board, if your protest is not resolved at the informal hearing.

You’ll need to provide evidence to support your challenge of the appraised value, so give us a call if we can help you out.

For more information about protesting your appraised value, visit the website of the Texas Comptroller of Public Acccounts.

http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/protests.htmlUnknown

12 Comments

Filed under Dallas Real Estate, Dallas Texas REALTOR, Flower Mound, Flower Mound Homes For Sale, Grapevine, Grapevine Texas REALTOR, Highland Village, Interest Rates, Mortgages, Real Estate, Taxes, Texas, Texas Homes For Sale, Texas Real Estate, Uncategorized

Homeowner Tax Breaks On The House

Tax Time

Homeowner Tax Breaks On The House

Tax season can make most of us cringe. But, if you’re a homeowner, make certain you meet with experts to see how you may benefit at tax time by owning a home.

Minimizing your tax liability is always the goal. Start first by getting all your paperwork together. Hopefully you’ve kept good, clean records of everything pertaining to your home. Remodeling projects can often be deducted, so go through your files and search for the paid invoices. However, repairs to restore items to their original state usually aren’t tax deductible.

If you haven’t kept good records, now is the time to start. It’ll pay off in 2015 when it comes time to do your taxes. Here are a few tips to get you ready for tax season this year and beyond.

The largest savings is the mortgage interest deduction. Homeowners love this one because, especially in the early years of a loan, it can save tons of money. The deduction can be claimed on both primary and secondary homes. Two requirements: your home is less than a million dollars and you itemize your tax return.

Find your property tax statement for the end of the year. Your property taxes paid are deductible for as long as you own the home. This is another tax savings that you’ll be able to record on your Federal form. Property taxes are taken as an itemized expense.

Improving your home can also be a tax write-off. Maybe you added a room addition, installed a new roof, or made general improvements to increase the value of your home, all of these things can help to reduce your tax liability and they can also increase the value of your home when it comes time to sell.

If you’ve installed energy-efficiency appliances or upgrades, you can offset your tax bill to the IRS, dollar-for-dollar for up to 10 percent of the amount that you spent on specific home energy-efficiency upgrades. That means items such as energy-efficient water heaters or insulation can help you at tax time. However, the cap on this deduction is a mere $500 (there are cases when it’s less. Check with your tax accountant for details).

With so many people working from home, the home (business) office is not only convenient but also a tax write-off. A new 2013 tax deduction allows homeowners who have an office in their house to claim $5 per square foot for up to 300 square feet (a simpler formula than previous tax years). So a room that’s 8×10 can save you $400.

Keep in mind that tax deductions are always on the government’s chopping block and some, like the energy tax credit, are gone after the 2013 tax year and not expected to return for future tax years.

There are many fees and expenses associated with owning a home. Don’t try to guess which things will help lower your tax bill. Instead, compile all of your home’s documents and receipts from the previous year and bring them into your tax accountant for advice. Often there are areas where you can save a little more, but you won’t know until you try.

Note:

Recently, the IRS announced that it has significantly updated “Your Federal Income Tax” forms. According to the IRS, Publication 17 includes important changes to help taxpayers “get the most out of various tax benefits and get a jump on preparing their 2013 federal income tax returns.” This 292-page guide contains thousands of interactive links to help taxpayers quickly get answers to their questions.
Other publications which may assist you include: No. 1, “Your Rights as a Taxpayer;” No. 502, “Medical and Dental Expenses;” No. 504, “Divorced or Separated Individuals;” No. 523, “Selling Your Home;” and No. 530, “Tax Information for First Time Homebuyers.”

A complete list can be found at http://www.irs.gov, click on Forms and Publications.

13 Comments

Filed under Dallas Real Estate, Dallas Texas REALTOR, Flower Mound, Flower Mound Homes For Sale, Grapevine, Grapevine Texas REALTOR, Highland Village, Real Estate, Southlake Texas Homes For Sale, Taxes, Texas, Texas Homes For Sale, Texas Real Estate, Uncategorized