Show Notes: Taxes and Baby Proofing
It’s almost tax time again. Do you know what’s deductible these days? Need to improve your home’s curb appeal? We have help for all that and more, just for you.
DIY vs Pro Survey Results
As you may know, we conducted a survey of our audience last weekend asking what home maintenance projects they are willing to tackle, and which ones will force them to call a pro. The On The House audience is obviously aware that we check our voicemails and text messages because both were packed full of listeners wanting to weigh in on the survey:
Helen from West Virginia would never try roofing.
Leonard in Union City, California would never build an addition without help.
Joe, listening live on Spreaker.com, says he won’t touch electrical!
Phyllis from Washington says that she will let a pro clean the fireplace.
Mike from Nevada says that he will never do solar.
Leslie, listening on KAGO in Oregon, says that she won’t do decking!
Paula in Sebastopol would never paint.
Tim from Virginia says he will do everything BUT trim work!
After listening to all of the voicemails and sorting through the mountain of text messages, we learned that the number one project that people are not willing to DIY is, roofing. So, if you are a young adult still looking to find your way, try to coax that old roofer, that lives down the street, into giving you a job because apparently there is a ton of job security.
9 Tax Deductions Every Homeowner Should Know About
The biggie: You can deduct the amount of interest paid on your mortgage.
The vast world of deductions can have even the most financially astute among us scratching our heads come tax time. But when it comes to home ownership, you’ll be saving major, major buckage if you know what you’re eligible for. We checked in with Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and TurboTax Tax Expert, for all the key places you should be leveraging Uncle Sam’s generosity on the home front.
Mortgage Payments The biggie: You can deduct the amount of interest paid on your mortgage. If you purchased your home last year, you should be receiving a document called Form 1098 from your lender that includes the amount of interest paid, as well as the points you paid, so that you can maximize your deductions for a bigger refund.
Accidental Loss Here’s hoping you don’t actually claim this one, which has to be the result of a sudden, unexpected or unusual event (like property damage as a result of last year’s horrible hurricane season, for example). If your losses total more than 10 percent of your income, you can deduct whatever your insurance doesn’t cover.
Solar Energy If you’ve made any solar improvements lately (see: energy panels), you’re eligible for a credit of 30 percent of the total cost, including installation, with no set limit. Note that the residential energy efficient property credit will drop over the years under the new tax code, so don’t wait too long if you’re noodling on the prospect. (The credit decreases to 26 percent for tax year 2020; 22 percent for tax year 2021, then expires December 31, 2021.)
Historical Preservation Buy an old fixer-upper? You might be eligible for a deduction. While the historical preservation credit mostly applies exclusively to “income producing” properties (like commercial buildings), certain states have historic preservation tax credits for owner-occupied homes. In order to qualify for them, your house has to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and any work done must be reviewed to ensure it meets preservation requirements.
Rental Expenses on a Secondary Home Unlike your primary residence (which does not count a rental as taxable income), if you rent out your second home for more than two weeks a year, you have to report it on your return. However, you can get tax breaks in the form of maintenance costs related to rental expenses: meaning stuff like supplies, repairs and furniture.
Reminder: If you itemize your deductions, you can write off the full amount of your home’s property taxes
Capital Gains Exclusion The majority of taxpayers don’t need to pay taxes on their home’s sale profit, thanks to this guy. The gist: If you owned and lived in your main home for two out of five years before its sale, you can make up to $250,000 profit when selling and not have to claim it on your taxes. As a married couple, you may be able to exclude up to $500,000 profit. On the other hand, if you pocketed more than $250,000 (on your own) or $500,000 (as a couple), you will be taxed.
Home Office If you legitimately use your home office full-time (“regularly and exclusively,” per the IRS’s guidelines), you can take the home office deduction for a percentage of your mortgage interest, insurance and maintenance—which is based on the percentage of your square footage used for your business.
Property Taxes Reminder: If you itemize your deductions, you can write off the full amount of your home’s property taxes. But heads up: Starting next year this deduction will be limited to $10,000 total (per the new tax code).
Moving Costs Did you buy your new home because of a job? If you meet the criteria (aka you work full-time for at least 39 weeks within the first 12 months after your move, and your new gig is at least 50 miles farther away from your old home than your old place of employment), you can claim your moving costs—everything from movers to storage boxes.
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I have an un-insulated cinder block wall right up against the toilet tank. It’s a sweaty, moldy wall and I need to get rid of the mold and paint it. The toilet sweats and the wall is wet all the time.
How To Stop Toilet Tank Condensation
Condensation on the outside of your toilet tank can lead to a host of problems, including mold, corrosion of metal parts and floor damage. It’s caused by a temperature difference between the inside of the tank and the outside. The problem worsens if the humidity in the room is habitually high or if the toilet gets insufficient ventilation. In extreme circumstances, water can pool on the floor, soak into the subfloor and lead to expensive floor repairs. To control condensation, you have to reduce the temperature difference between the tank water and the air in the room.
1 – Reduce the temperature in the bathroom by keeping a window open or turning down the heat. Open all the windows after showering.
2 – Provide more ventilation in the toilet area. If the bathroom has an exhaust fan, run it regularly. If the bathroom has no exhaust system, point a floor or desk fan at the toilet and run it at a low speed. Run a dehumidifier in the bathroom to reduce humidity.
3 – Install a tank liner. Shut off the water, drain the tank and let the inside of the tank dry out. Glue the liner to the inside of the tank with waterproof glue. The liner and glue usually come together as a kit.
4 – Install an anti-sweat valve in the toilet supply line to warm the water in the tank. The valve does this by mixing hot and cold water. To install one, trace the toilet supply pipe to a place where it runs near a hot water pipe supplying a sink, shower or bathtub. Turn off the water to both pipes.
5 – Cut the toilet supply pipe with a pipe cutter. Connect the end of the pipe coming in from the water to the cold water inlet of the valve. Connect the pipe going to the toilet to the valve outlet.
6 – Solder a copper tee into the hot water line at a convenient location and run pipe from the tee outlet to the hot water inlet on the valve, using whatever fittings are necessary. Dry fit the assembly to make sure everything fits, then solder all the joints. Connect the pipe to the hot water inlet.
7 – Turn the water on and adjust the temperature of the water coming from the valve with a screwdriver. You’ll probably have to make several adjustments over a period of days before you find the right temperature.
Recall of the Week:
Whirlpool Recalls Kitchen Aid Electric Kettle
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 40,000 people out there that are at risk of spilling that morning cup of joe. That’s right, the CPSC states that Whirlpool has recalled its’ Kitchen Aid Electric Kettles due to a burn hazard.
Apparently, the handles on these electric kettles are coming loose, causing them to spill, potentially hot contents, everywhere. The Whirlpool Corporation has already received 79 reports of broken or loose handles and three reports of minor burn injuries.
There is good news though! If you own one of these electric kettles, you can contact the Whirlpool Corporation at 800-874-0608 to receive your free replacement.
About 40,200 (In addition, 47,300 units were sold in Canada and 1,600 in Mexico)
For more information on this, please visit the show notes section of onthehouse.com.
Southern Living’s 10 Secrets To Curb Appeal
A few weeks ago, I summarized my findings in the Cost vs Value report. I discovered that, kitchen remodels are expensive, it’s nearly impossible to afford living in California, and curb appeal projects will give you the best return on investment. To follow that report up, I have Southernliving.com’s 10 Secrets to Curb Appeal. You know what they say, secrets don’t make friends, but friends tell you when your house is ugly.
Secret #1- Mix it up with Colorful Pots
This doesn’t mean you need a different pot for each color of the rainbow, just contrasting colors that will look nice against your house.
Secret #2- Build a fence
Everyone likes a nice white picket fence, but that white picket fence may not go with the style of your home. Pick out a fence that speaks the same language as your home and c’mon Shawshank, don’t make it any higher than 32 inches.
Secret #3- Clean up
Pressure wash the house, sidewalk, and walkway. This is an easy task that yields tremendous results.
Secret #4- Show off your home
Cut away all of that overgrown nonsense and let the architectural beauty of your home shine through. Use different forms of greenery to frame picturesque portions of your home.
Secret #5- Window boxes
Although they are tough to maintain, they add a beautiful touch to almost any home. But, be careful, because a window box full of dead plants screams, “I have run out of cares to give, please come back later”.
Secret #6- Add a pathway
Whether it is an intricate brick pattern or some lovely pavers, a pathway is the King of first impressions. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to dazzle your friends, family, and passerby’s.
Secret #7- Wine and Vine
Adding climbing vines to the front of your house may be the long searched-for piece that completes your home’s facade. Caution: if not properly maintained, climbing vines can end up giving your home a scary, haunted look, which is far from the elegant cottage look you were trying to achieve.
Secret #8- Swing life away
When it comes to porch swings, the bigger, the better. Companies like vintageporchswings.com make daybed style porch swings that can fit the whole family.
Secret #9- Paint your door
Just like we did with our Historic Renovation Project, a bold color on a front door can be a cheap and easy update that will have lasting impressions.
Secret #10- Accessorize
A fresh coat of paint on your mailbox is great and making sure your wind chime is in working order is wonderful but, there is nothing more appealing, in my eyes at least, than seeing Old Glory waving back and forth in a subtle breeze.
For more secrets, and for more information on curb appeal, please visit onthehouse.com
Baby Proofing Your House?
We asked you, the listeners, to call in with baby proofing tips, and, boy, did we learn some stuff! Every person who called or texted us with a tip was entered in a drawing for a Visa gift card, and at the end of the show we drew a winner who is… Nancy from Alaska!
Thanks for the calls and texts everyone. Keep tuning in for more opportunities to win!
And if you are baby proofing your home like Cameron, here’s a link with some great tips!