Four Places To Look For Tax Deductions In Your Home

Four Places To Look For Tax Deductions In Your Home Paying your income taxes each year leave your wallet a bit thin? There may be money hiding in your home that lessens your tax burden. Here are four places to look:

1. Home-Office Deduction

If you work from home, you could qualify for a home-office deduction. Taking the deduction can be a bit complicated; so many people who qualify don’t claim the exemption. An estimated 26 million Americans have home offices, but only 3.4 million claim them on their tax return.

Perhaps that’s why the Internal Revenue Service attempted to simplify the process in 2013.

The write-off takes into account depreciation, utilities, insurance, the amount of square footage dedicated for office space, whether you host clients at your house and other factors.

Because the parameters involved in filing a home-office exemption are rather complicated, it’s best to keep all business-related receipts, records of client meetings and other pertinent information to make things easier when you prepare your return.

2. Casualty Loss

Damage to your home from an act of God or a theft or burglary may qualify you for an income tax exemption. To qualify for the write-off, the causality loss must meet the “sudden event test.” That means it must be sudden, unpredictable, have involved some natural force and occur in a single instance.

To claim thefts and burglaries, you must be able to prove that a wrong doing has actually occurred. It can’t just be a case of a lost item that you suspect was stolen. Proof can come in the form of witness statements, police reports or newspaper accounts.

3. Energy Efficiency Upgrades And Repairs

Upgrading your home with energy efficient improvements can qualify you for a tax deduction. New roofs, insulation, windows, doors and a number of additional items qualify for the deduction. The deductions lets homeowners claim 10 percent of the total bill for energy efficient materials. The maximum credit is $500.

4. Real Estate Taxes And Newly Purchased Homes

New home owners should look at their settlement statement a bit closer. If the previous owner prepaid property taxes that cover any of the time you owned the home, you can include the prepaid taxes in your property tax deduction.

Don’t pay more than you have to when you file your taxes each April. Consider these commonly overlooked deductions that can lessen the amount you have to pay.

Benchmark Colorado

Smart Ways To Use Equity Within Your Home

Smart Ways To Use The Equity In Your HomeHome equity is the difference between what your home can sell for and what you owe on it. Generally, the longer you own your home, the more equity you build.

This is money you can use before you sell your home through a home equity loan. Just keep in mind that a home equity loan is secured with your home. If you can’t make the payments, you can lose your home.

Use Your Home Equity In Smart Ways:

  1. Remodel Your Home – If you’ve wanted to add on a family room or modernize your kitchen, consider using your home’s equity to fund the project. Home improvements usually increase your home’s marketability and value.
  2. Make Needed Major Repairs – Your home’s equity can be a funding source for major repairs like plumbing problems and re-roofs. Once again, this is an improvement for your home that will help keep its value up.
  3. Buy Another Property – Real estate is still a safe investment. You can use your home equity to buy a second property when home values are down. When the market recovers, you can sell the investment property for a profit. This also works if you have to move out of town and are still trying to sell your home. If you can afford the payments, use your home’s equity to purchase your new home until the current one sells.
  4. Pay For Unexpected Medical Expenses Or Job Loss – You never know when a medical emergency or job loss will leave you in debt. A home equity loan can give you the money you need to get through this difficult time.

It’s easy to build equity in your home when you find the right deal. Call us today if we can help.

Benchmark Colorado

5 Strategies To Secure Your Home Against A Break In

5 Strategies To Secure Your Home Against A Break InHaving your home broken into is completely violating. Burglars don’t just steal your stuff; they steal your peace of mind. While this is the sort of thing you think will never happen to you, it’s worth the time and effort to make sure you’re not a target.

Below are five strategies to help secure your home against a break-in.

1. Use Landscaping As A Barrier

Purposefully place plants in spots that create a natural barrier to your home. Plant thorny rose bushes in front of bedroom windows and remove overgrown shrubs that provide coverage for creepers.

Also, trim back any tree branches that might make an open upstairs window accessible.

2. Put In A Security Alarm

While a loud alarm might not stop a burglar from quickly grabbing the large flat screen in your living room, it does limit their time for snooping around and finding other valuables. Install an alarm that monitors the entire perimeter of your home.

Only give the code to family members and trusted friends. Also, be sure to advertise your alarm system with a sign out front.

3. Install Motion Detector Lights

Not only should these be placed in the front of your home, but also on the sides and in the backyard. Install motion detector floodlights that cover a wide area, and use LED bulbs so that you don’t have to change them as often.

4. Hide The Spare Key Better

Get creative when it comes to hiding your spare key. Seasoned thieves know the common places to look, such as under your doormat, in the mailbox and beneath flowerpots. If you can’t seem to find an obscure spot, then you’re best to leave it with a close neighbor.

5. Don’t Tweet Your Trips

While we may have the strictest of privacy settings on all of our social media outlets, you never know who your real Facebook friends are — or who’ve they’re talking to. So don’t let all of your friends know over the Internet that you’ve arrived safely in Paris and will see them again in two weeks.

The insecurities a robbery creates might even be worse than losing your precious valuables. Follow the precautions above to secure your home and make your possessions less of a target for looters on the lookout.

Call us.