Real Estate Housing Feed

Being a homeowner can be a royal pain in the tush. I speak from experience. The hubby and I have bought a condo and five houses over the years. But, as you can tell from my buying string, it's my preferred living arrangement. And a lot of people joined us in the in the homeownership club in 2020. The National Association of Realtors says last year's housing boom was driven by sales of existing homes. The specific numbers from the NAR report released Jan. 22 show existing home sales totaled 5.64 million in 2020. That's 5.6 percent higher than in... Read more →


A panoramic view of Positano, Italy, the famously vertical town where actor and food/travel show host Stanley Tucci found the highly-desired Amalfi Coast lemons. (Image courtesy Italia Agenzia Nazionale Turismo) Tonight, the hubby and I will watch our latest favorite television series, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. The CNN show is part travelogue, but with routes determined by Tucci's tastes, which are so far spectacular. The award-winning actor, director, screenwriter, Instagram bartender and cookbook author (you're not surprised, are you?) essentially is eating his way through Italy, the county from which both sides of his family hail. He started in... Read more →


Much of Texas got record snowfall on Feb. 14-15, with around 6 inches covering our backyard. Thank goodness for some much welcome sunshine today, but it's still below freezing, meaning our heater is working overtime! (Photo by Kay Bell) We have sunshine here in Central Texas! Still, the high temperature today in the greater Austin area is not expected to break the freezing mark. That means my home's heater is still in overdrive. And that means my next bill is going to be ginormous. The only consolation, is that I can count part of that heating bill as a home... Read more →


Neighborhoods like this one are major tax revenue sources in many states. (Photo by Pictometry) Much is made here in Texas about our lack of a personal income tax, but I can tell you that doesn't mean millions of us residents are tax-free. There's a 6.25 state sales tax. And Austin is among the cities that also tacks on another 2 percentage points, meaning we pay 8.25 percent tax on most of our purchases. Then there's the county-collected annual tax on our home's value. Property tax pain: I paid our annual residential property tax bill this weekend and I can... Read more →


We got our first tax statement yesterday. It's our mortgage lender's Form 1098 with details on potentially tax-deductible amounts like loan interest and property taxes. This is just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their returns. In addition to tax-related home transactions, the various documents that are or soon will be on their way include documents detailing income, be it from wages, contract work or retirement accounts; investments; winnings and/or gambling proceeds; and in some cases, health care information. A handful of these documents must be submitted with Form 1040. Most, however,... Read more →


Even though we definitely are more than ready for 2020 to end, the celebration of its official departure in a few hours — that's for us here in the United States; Happy New 2021 to all y'all on the other side of the International Date Line — likely will be subdued. Thanks, no thanks, COVID-19. May you, too, be gone soon in the coming 12 months. But even if the ringing in the New Year will be in smaller, pandemic-precautioned pods, some adult beverages will be raised as the clock strikes midnight. And among those celebrating the most will be... Read more →


Movie burglar Harry Lime, played by Joe Pesci (left), cases the house where Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, was left "Home Alone" leading up to Christmas Day. (Image courtesy 20th Century Fox) "Home Alone" has been a beloved Christmas movie since it was released in November 1990. Young Kevin McCallister's adventures foiling inept burglars as his frazzled and forgetful family frantically tries to make it home to him by Dec. 25 have delighted audiences for 30 years. It's also been an annual favorite of Illinois tax collectors. Yes, home where the titular alone youngster repeatedly bested the Wet Bandits... Read more →


The end of the disappearing stream water feature in our backyard. The installation was a home improvement. My work today to shore up a part of it was home maintenance. The differences have tax break implications. (Photo by Kay Bell) I spent most of today taking care of home repairs that I felt confident doing. It's not a long list. I am not really a do-it-yourself kind of person when it comes to most things around the house. Still, even though I've worked from home for years, being stuck here more than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic has made... Read more →


Welcome to Part 8 of the ol' blog's series on 2021 tax inflation adjustments. We started with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. That first item also has a directory, at the end of the post, of all of next year's tax-related inflation updates. In today's post, we look at the tax considerations of U.S. taxpayers living and working abroad. Note: The 2021 figures in this post apply to that tax year's returns to be filed in 2022. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2020 amounts that apply to this year's taxes, due April 15, 2021.... Read more →


Voters' voices literally matter each election when initiatives are on ballots. Here are results of some tax questions that were decided by the 2020 electorate. Vice President Joseph R. Biden today was declared president-elect of the United States. It took longer than usual, but that part of Nov. 3 (Donald J. Trump legal challenges notwithstanding) is over. Decisions on the myriad ballot questions that also went before voters across the county on the first Tuesday of November came a bit sooner. Here's a quick look at the results of the tax initiatives in the order they were featured in my... Read more →


In addition to selecting who gets to go to, or stay in, Washington, D.C., voters across the country on Nov. 3 will decide on a variety of ballot measures. This coming Election Day, citizens in 32 states will decide the fate of 120 statewide initiatives. There also are measures on the ballots in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And yes, there are plenty of tax questions that will be decided. Ballotpedia, the Wisconsin-based nonprofit that's been tracking election data since 2007, says this year voters in 12 states will decide 19 tax-related ballot measures.... Read more →


The vehicle lights coming and going across Pennybacker Bridge in northwest Austin are lovely in the evening, but the image also illustrates, as photographer Manuel Garza (via Flickr) notes, "the traffic sucks." I can't speak for all the country's suburbs, but I know mine is pretty sure that our neighborhood will still be around after the coming presidential election even if Joe Biden does move into the White House. We are, however, a bit concerned about how our continuing life here outside Austin's downtown might be affected by a proposed real estate tax increase that also will be on our... Read more →


Donald J. Trump announced on Aug. 8 four executive actions to provide COVID-19 relief in the wake of the stalled Congressional talks. (White House photo via Twitter) By now everyone knows that Donald J. Trump decided to literally take COVID-19 relief into his own hands yesterday. Sitting at table in a meeting room at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, surrounded by media and club members who served as a smaller surrogate rally crowd to cheer him and boo the reporters, Trump sign four executive actions. One was a formal Executive Order. The other three were memoranda. He and his... Read more →


My desk in my home office which I deduct when I file my taxes. Not that I'm paranoid, but sometimes it seems like unseen others somehow know what's going on in my life. The latest example is tax related. Earlier this week, a #TaxTwitter pal asked that social media group about home office tax deductions. Granted, this is not an unusual question since the coronavirus pandemic has meant many of us have been working from home, a lot of us for the very first time. Today, the Internal Revenue Service issued a tax tip on what taxpayers need to know... Read more →


Remember the Michigan man who lost his property because he underpaid by $8.41 the overdue real estate tax bill? The state's highest court says the how the tax sale of Uri Rafaeli's house was handled was wrong, at least as far as the transaction's proceeds. Because of that finding, the Michigan Supreme Court said Rafaeli, an 85-year-old retired engineer, is due financial compensation for the loss of his home to the tax collector. That means Rafaeli soon should be depositing more than $24,000 from the county. High Court speaks: "[G]overnment shall not collect more in taxes than are owed, nor... Read more →


Screenshot from an interview in 2011 of Georgist economist and professor Mason Gaffney (Posted on Vimeo by the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation) Not to be morbid, but I like reading obituaries. They reflect not only on peoples' lives, but also provide a look at the worlds and times in which they lived. Well-written obits essentially are mini history lessons. I came across one such commemoration last week that introduced to me the late Mason Gaffney, as well as Henry George and the economic concept of land-value-only taxation. A tax to pay for progressive goals: Gaffney, who passed away on July 16,... Read more →


We're heading, finally, into the heart of tax return filing season 2020. Even if you fill out and submit your Form 1040 electronically, as most of us do, you still need the documents that provide the figures you transfer to your return. One area of interest to millions every filing season is interest. In some cases, the interest you pay on certain loans can provide a tax break. In another, it could mean you owe Uncle Sam a bit more. This week's Tax Form Tuesday looks at three common interest-related tax documents. (Quick note: the forms' names below are linked... Read more →


A first job is a major life event with obvious major tax implications. Other momentous changes throughout our lives involve taxes, too. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, the White House has decided to follow state and local officials in urging continued social (aka physical) distancing. For millions of us, this new April 30 stay home recommendation means more time cooped up with loved ones. Or not-so-loved ones. My favorite non-medical virus-related debate right now is whether all the coronavirus forced togetherness ultimately will end with a baby boom (coronials, anyone?) or a marriage bust. While the... Read more →


The Family Handyman Millions of Americans are at home now, sheltering in place in order to slow down spread of the coronavirus. One of the side effects of spending more than normal time in your house is that you discover issues. And one of those issues might be, depending on where you live, that your heating or air conditioning system is not in the greatest shape. Maybe you need a completely new unit. I feel your pain. We've had to replace AC systems and it sucks, from both the cost and inconvenience perspectives. Or perhaps you can get by with... Read more →


Photo: Nashville Metro Police Department via Twitter Spring storm season came early and with a vengeance to the southern United States last night. At least 25 people lost their lives when a tornado roared through the Nashville area early today. Tornado sirens started sounding around 2 a.m. Central Time on March 3. By the time the twister completed its rampage, it had become Tennessee's second-deadliest March tornado. More than 150 were injured. Residents and officials are still assessing property damage. Volunteer State residents are living their home's motto today, as they not only work through their losses, but also helping... Read more →


Texas doesn't have a personal income tax, but there are plenty of other levies we Lone Star State residents must pay. Most U.S. taxpayers also must file a state return every spring. Only those of us who live in one of the seven states — Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming and my home Texas — don't have to mess with state income tax forms. Some more local jurisdictions, generally large cities, also levy income taxes. And most of those other 43 states (and cities et al) plus the District of Columbia also follow the federal April 15 deadline.... Read more →