Real Estate Housing Feed

Today is officially winter. You know what that means. Taxes. For folks in Michigan, at least. Much of the United States has been in the grips of the Weather Channel named winter storm Decima this month. The Arctic air even dropped down to the Austin area earlier this week, producing a bit of a freeze in our back yard waterfall/stream. (Click image to watch my YouTube video.) OK. Tax collection in the Great Lakes State isn't limited to the coldest months, which are pretty plentiful there. And it's not even limited to one state. Property tax bills, which actually are... Read more →


Taxes are about dollar amounts and dates. April 15 obviously is the biggie. But Dec. 31 is almost as important. The end of a tax year is, for the most part, the last time you can make tax moves that could help lower your coming tax bill. While we all wish we could have Homer Simpson's to-do list, when it comes to taxes, most of us need to take care of some potentially money saving tax tasks by Dec. 31. With the days rapidly dwindling (the countdown clock over there in the ol' blog's right column is tracking them), here... Read more →


Welsh officials are sooooo happy. On Sept. 12, lawmakers in Wales introduced the country's first homegrown tax in 800 years, finally, as a new government fact sheet says, producing "Taxes made in Wales for Wales." Dolwyddelan Castle in Wales, built by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth in the early 13th century to watch over one of the valley routes into Gwynedd. It was in the latter part of that century that the Welsh nation last passed a tax law. (Photo by United Kingdom National Archives via Open Government Licensing/Wikipedia) We'll see how long that excitement lasts. I will, however, cut the people... Read more →


Parents want the best schools possible for their kids. Heck, even child-free folks like the hubby and I want good schools. We're counting on the kids roaming our neighborhood getting good educations, then good jobs where they pay into the Social Security that we're planning on collecting in the ever-nearer future. School is back in session, supported in large part by the property taxes that homeowners pay. (Photo by WoodleyWonderWorks via Flickr) But homeowners also hate property taxes. By some measures, it's the most hated tax. So when we get our property tax bills, the largest portion of which tends... Read more →


The next time you think that paying your U.S. taxes stinks, be thankful you're not living in a place where that is literally true. Garbage trucks at Intel Bengaluru, India, offices as dispute over property taxes escalates. (Photo via PublicTV India Twitter feed) Global computer chip maker Intel found out that owing taxes in India can really stink. When workers arrived at Intel's office in Bengaluru, India (some might recognize it as Bangalore) on Monday, Aug. 8, they found loaded garbage trucks parked on the company's campus. The annoyingly aromatic vehicles were directed to the high tech company's facilities in... Read more →


It's been a good couple of years for Philadelphia tourism officials and for folks who rented out their homes to the city's visitors. Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Founding Fathers debated and adopted both the U.S. Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Click image for a montage of other notable Philly sites. (Photo by J. Leon via Wikipedia) Last September, Pope Francis included the City of Brotherly Love in his U.S. visit itinerary. This week, the Democratic National Convention has taken over Philly. Making money-making space: When big events like these are held, many full-time residents decide to literally... Read more →


Short-term residential rentals are seen by most state and local lawmakers as a great tax revenue source, but not in the United States' island paradise. Rather than stay at a resort like Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, some visitors to Hawaii prefer untaxed home share rentals available through Airbnb and other online accommodations brokers. (Photo by Darren Thompson via Flickr CC) Hawaii Gov. David Ige this week vetoed a bill that would have made collection of taxes on Airbnb rentals easier. The veto puts the 50th U.S. state, arguably one of the world's most visited spots, in... Read more →


New York City handed out more than $59 million in residential tax breaks to thousands of deceased individuals and corporations between fiscal years 2011 and 2017. The improper tax benefits were supposed to go as property tax exemptions for senior citizens, according to an audit by the New York City comptroller's office. Around $36 million in tax revenue was lost when the city granted more than 3,000 Senior Citizen Homeowners' Exemptions (SCHE) to older property owners who had died, according to NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. The same properties, Stringer said during a July 7 press conference announcing the audit findings,... Read more →


Boris Johnson, one of loudest voices calling for Britain's exit from the European Union, or Brexit, is in the spotlight again. The tumult continues across the pond, as Boris Johnson, described by many as the United Kingdom's version of Donald Trump, has now ended, at least temporarily, his political career. Johnson today announced he would not seek the post of Great Britain's Prime Minister. Current PM David Cameron announced his plans to resign that position just hours after the United Kingdom's June 23 vote to leave the European economic confederation was confirmed, essentially telling the pro-Brexit faction, "you broke it,... Read more →


We're still waiting for Donald J. Trump's federal tax returns, but we have received some clarification on his New York condo's property tax bill. This isn't The Donald's Big Apple home, but another apartment for sale with similar views in New York City's Trump Tower. Trump's attorney asked the New York City tax collector to remove a tax break the presumptive Republican presidential nominee had received that typically is awarded only to taxpayers making less than $500,000. The city complied, thereby increasing Trump's tax bill on his Trump Tower condo by $1,046.41, according to The Wall Street Journal. The removed... Read more →


When Crain's New York Business reported in March that self-proclaimed brilliant businessman Donald J. Trump got a tax break available only to folks making $500,000 or less, the ostensible billionaire's people said it was a mistake. If that's true, it's an error that's being repeated. Crain's June 6 online article says that Trump once again received a middle-class tax break on the property tax bill for his luxurious apartment in Trump Tower (pictured at left) on Fifth Avenue. The initial report that Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was poor enough to get a special Big Apple property tax break... Read more →


Tax scams that invoke the Internal Revenue Service get a lot of attention. That's understandable. The tax code is complicated and the IRS is a source of fear for most Americans. That combination makes it easy for crooks pretending to be with the federal tax agency to scare us into paying them to resolve a purported tax bill. But there are 43 other official government tax collectors out there, and crooks know that they also can use state taxes to scare us into sending them our money. Multitasking small business owners make good targets for state tax focused con artists.... Read more →


Donald J. Trump wants the United States to renegotiate its federal debt. Erasing debt can help with individuals' cash flow, but it brings new tax considerations. I'll leave that economic debate to the experts in the dismal science. They already are all over Trump's CNBC interview, where the self-proclaimed "king of debt" addressed the issue of whether the United States should pay its debts in full. "I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told the cable financial news network. "And if the economy was good, it was good.... Read more →


Given all we see on social media, it seems that many people nowadays have no shame. Some government officials, however, think that this pervasive "so what, no big deal, look at me anyway" attitude doesn't extend to unpaid taxes. They are publishing the names of delinquent taxpayers in the belief hope that it will humiliate the public tax debtors to pay up. It's not a new tactic. Almost as soon as tax departments created a website, these lists started showing up online. But now more places are making sure that folks don't just stumble across the tax delinquents. In addition... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2016. April 22 marks the anniversary of the birth in 1970 of the modern environmental movement. For farmers, however, every day is earth day, says Naomi Starkman, founder and editor in chief of Civil Eats, a news outlet that focuses on sustainable agriculture. "Farmers work every day to care for the Earth and steward the land that sustains us," writes Starkman in an opinion piece for MSNBC. Farmers like Donald J. Trump. Donald J. Trump's goat farm helps him get tax breaks on two New Jersey golf properties. Photo courtesy Columbia Economic Development Corporation, Columbia County, New... Read more →


Crain's New York Business may have shed some light on why Donald J. Trump doesn't want us to see his tax returns. The magazine reports that the billionaire real estate developer got a property tax break designed for New Yorkers making less than $500,000 a year. Michigan voters apparently weren't concerned about Trump's tax returns, giving him that state's GOP primary win on March 8. Numerous publications, as well as The Donald himself, say that the Republican presidential nominee front-runner is worth billions, although the exact dollar amounts vary. Trump makes it simple for us, noting that he's "really rich."... Read more →


Today is the first day of winter and it's supposed to hit 76 it hit 79 degrees here in Austin. Similar temperatures are forecast for the rest of this Christmas week. I thought we left such winter warmth behind us 10 years ago when we moved from South Florida back home to Texas. And for most winters over the last decade, we've had our share of the cold, like in 2011 and 2013 when we had snow and temperatures low enough to freeze our backyard fountain. Some winters in Austin, Texas, like this one in 2011 have been cold. But... Read more →


I'm a big movie fan. I also am a personal finance/tax nut. So it's a big day for me as those two worlds converge. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association today announced its nominees for its annual Golden Globe awards. Two financially-themed movies, "99 Homes" and "The Big Short," were tabbed. Christian Bale, nominated for a Golden Globe as best lead actor, rocking out in a scene from "The Big Short." Both films are based on the housing industry collapse that followed the reckless subprime mortgages banks handed out right and left during the 2000s. That led to the disastrous (and... Read more →


The Republican governor of Massachusetts has signed a petition that, if successful, would let his state's voters decide if they want to tax millionaires more. Gov. Charlie Baker told WGBH public radio earlier this month that although he personally hasn't yet decided whether he supports a surtax on high-income taxpayers, he does believe that voters should get a say on the idea. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in the WGBH studios on Oct. 15. Photo by Meredith Nierman/WGBH News. Click image to listen to the interview. Such direct democracy efforts are becoming even more popular. As I note in my story... Read more →


It's no secret that I'm a big football fan. I prefer the NFL because I like to yell at my teams and the players, and it just doesn't seem right to berate college kids, even if they can't hear me shouting at my TV. I do, however, appreciate the special energy and enthusiasm that college gridiron match-ups generate. The Ohio State-Rutgers game this past Saturday is a perfect example. The Scarlet Knights knew it was a big game, probably their biggest one this year, going up against top-ranked Ohio State. Staying true to your school: So some Rutgers' fan took... Read more →