Real Estate Housing Feed

If past years are any indication, when the 2020 tax filing season officially opens on Monday, Jan. 27, millions of taxpayers will hit the send button to electronically deliver their annual returns to the Internal Revenue Service. But millions more of us have to wait to file. We're still waiting on at least one tax statement that has information we need to finish filling out our Form 1040. Form deadline is Jan. 31: Technically, most of these tax documents aren't even required to be on their way to us until Jan. 31. Employers and other businesses that issue wage and/or... Read more →


Owning a home has long been a symbol of the American dream. For some, however, homeownership turns into a nightmare. Those horrid homeowner dreams became evident in the Great Recession. In the late 1990s through the mid-2000s, artificially high home prices, questionable lending practices and an explosion of subprime mortgages to buyers who under regular lending standards would not have been given a home loan, created a housing bubble. It finally burst in 2007, leaving many homeowners broke as the loans on their properties suddenly were many thousands more than their homes were worth. Many went into foreclosure or walked... Read more →


Paying property tax bills by Dec. 31 used to be a surefire way for many filers to bump up their Schedule A deductions enough to make itemizing more advantageous than using the standard deduction. That's no longer the case thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). In addition to capping state and local real estate tax deductions at $10,000, the tax reform bill also nearly doubled prior tax law's standard amounts. So fewer folks are worrying about paying tax bills that may be due later, like the end of next January here in the Austin area, by year's... Read more →


"Do nothing" has long been the derisive descriptor attached to the U.S. Congress. Actually, though, the House and Senate could more accurately be described as a legislative body that does things that don't have any chance of becoming law. That's the case most recently with a bill that would eliminate, at least temporarily, the $10,000 cap on tax deductible state and local taxes, referred to by the acronym SALT. Cutting SALT in the tax diet: The House last week narrowly passed, by a 218 to 206 margin, H.R. 5377, dubbed the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act. The... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


Even more intriguing, will Donald J. Trump now become social media's definitive Florida Man? Donald Trump, especially early in his presidency, spent a lot of time at Mar-a-Lago, his South Florida club and residence. Here, Trump and Melania in April 2017 welcomed the People's Republic of China president Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan to the Palm Beach abode. Now Trump says it, not Trump Tower in New York City, will be his official residence. (Photo via Trump's Twitter account and Wikipedia Commons). The hubby and I used to live in Donald J. Trump's future full-time home. Alas, for... Read more →


Reduced salt isn't just an issue for road safety or healthier diets. It's a contentious part of the Republican tax reform law. UPDATED, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, at 4:45 p.m. Many U.S. homeowners who each year face increased property taxes tend to hate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The Republican tax reform law, whose provisions largely took effect with 2018 tax year, has limited their ability to fully deduct their big local real estate tax bills on their federal tax returns. Senate Democrats today tried to repeal the Internal Revenue Service regulation that undercut state efforts to salvage... Read more →


What's worse than losing your home to a disaster? Having to pay taxes on the destroyed property. That's what a Southwestern Pennsylvania family is dealing with now. After losing their home and all its contents to a fire last November, Rich and Catherine Hooks recently learned that they are responsible for the 2019 property taxes due on their no long in existence Westmoreland County home. "The taxes should be lower because the house isn't there," Mrs. Hooks told TribLive.com. But the county tax assessor didn't know that. So the prior tax valuation stood. When a significant change occurs on a... Read more →


It's been a summer of change for my neighborhood. Several of our neighbors have moved, including our next-door neighbors that I really liked. My former suburban Austinites are heading off to new jobs, other subdivisions they've discovered or to be closer to families across the state or country. A few also decided it was time to cash in on the rising property values of our neighborhood. I must admit, that's crossed my mind, but then I think moving and … Summer is prime moving time regardless of the reasons. Things tend to slow down at workplaces, giving you more time... Read more →


A co-owner of MLB's Chicago Cubs is facing major real estate tax bills. (Photo by Dave Sizer via Flickr CC) The one and only Major League Baseball trade deadline is almost here. It's 3 p.m. July 31, in case you're waiting for your team to get that one player who'll help win a pennant or more. Most owners are focusing on how much money they're willing to spend to get that key player (or players). Todd Ricketts, however, has another money matter on his mind. The co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, who are duking it out with the St. Louis... Read more →


We're halfway through the second year of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and its effects, pro and con, are still being debated. Some of those disputes will play out in court, like the latest challenge to the tax reform law's limits on federal tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT). This latest SALT legal action, brought by New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, was prompted by Treasury's and the Internal Revenue Service's regulation, finalized last month, that effectively guts the charitable workarounds these states had created to provide their residents full federal tax benefit of their state... Read more →


These pups probably would be cooler inside under the A/C instead of atop the condenser. As a general rule, your cooling system works better when you keep the outside air conditioning unit clear of everything, including pets! Summer's been official for just a week, but folks in many areas have been dealing with hot temperatures for a while. Some, including my neighbors who've had air conditioning repair trucks parked in front of their houses for what seems like weeks, already are feeling the often costly effects of warmer weather. That's why it's a good time to think about tuning up... Read more →


Mother Nature gives her colorful imprimatur to the beauty of Hawaii. (Rainbow over Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, a research and community resource of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa) It's vacation season and lots of folks plan to spend their days off in other folks' homes. I'm not talking bunking on a friend's couch or in a relative's guest room. I'm looking at private residences leased to a series of strangers in cities across the country (and world). The popularity of private accommodations for vacationers has prompted many state and local jurisdictions to enact regulations and tax collection policies on... Read more →


When it comes to expired tax laws, Congress is in much the same situation as the builders of this unfinished bridge. The basics are there, but there's still work to be done. (Photo by Paul Mannix via Flickr CC) UPDATE, June 21, 2019: After almost more than 11 hours of discussion, the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, June 20, passed along a 25-to-17 party-line vote a measure to extend through 2020 a variety of tax breaks that expired in 2017 and 2018 or will expire at the end of this year, some of which are highlighted in this... Read more →


The Alchemist, an 80-foot motor yacht photographed by D Ramey Logan, would qualify for a substantial sales tax break under a new Texas law awaiting the governor's signature. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0) Texas lawmakers say the property tax reform bill they've sent to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk will slow the increases homeowners have complained about for years. The Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act, which if enacted will require cities, counties and other taxing units to get voters' OK before levying new taxes. We shall see if what's been worked out on paper in Austin's... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2019 Earth Day was created in 1969 by environmental activists in response to an oil spill in waters near Santa Barbara, California. Since then, it has expanded each year as a day to emphasize environmental issues and inspire an appreciation of our planet. With this year's celebration falling on a weekday, many folks are looking for ways to incorporate their pro-Mother Earth efforts into their daily lives. Well, nothing is as incorporated into our day-to-day existences as our taxes. So on Earth Day 2019 and every day this year, here are 4 tax-saving environmental options. 1. Electric... Read more →


Close-up of National Geographic United States wall map. Click image to see all 50 states. Most states tend to operate on fiscal years, with July 1 being an effective date for a lot of law change State leaders, however, realize that their residents follow the Gregorian calendar, so they still make Jan. 1 the effective date for major revisions of law. I was surfing the Web on New Year's Day — doesn't everybody?!? — and ran across some interesting state tax law changes that took effective with the arrival of 2019. Below is a look at what I found. New... Read more →


Voters across the United States will vote for Congressional and state candidates that will have a profound effect on their lives for the next several years. But just as important are the fates of 155 statewide ballot measures that voters in 37 states will be asked to decide on Nov. 6. And many of those initiatives are about taxes. With a week to go before the midterm elections, here's a bit of background on ballot measures and a look at some of the notable tax-related issues that many of us will decide. Sin taxes not a sure thing: Since we're... Read more →


Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House's tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, and his Republican colleagues in June celebrated the six-month anniversary of their major tax reform bill. Back then, they thought the new tax laws would give them a political edge in the coming November elections. They thought wrong. (Photo courtesy U.S. Speaker of the House) When the Republican controlled House and Senate passed a major tax reform bill last December, it was supposed to be a twofer. First, enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) fulfilled long-standing GOP fiscal and political goals of reducing taxes... Read more →


UPDATE, April 24, 2019: J.B. Pritzker was elected governor of Illinois last fall. Now, WBEZ radio in Chicago has reported that the Democratic head of state and some family members are under federal criminal investigation for the residential property tax appeal discussed in this pre-election post. Politics often is a dirty business. Mudslinging is ubiquitous nowadays. In one governor's race, an even messier substance is involved. A common complaint about politics is all the associated mudslinging. Such is the case in Illinois' gubernatorial race. But it's even messier, less desirable stuff that's come into political play. J.B. Pritzker, the Democrat... Read more →