Mad Men: Comparing Cost of Living [inforgraphic]

Madmen_Infographic

How to Claim Your Energy Tax Credits

Home-and-Money.jpgEnergy tax credits on select improvements available through the end of tax year 2013.

If you upgraded one or more of the following systems last year, you may be eligible to take a tax credit — up to $500 — on your return.

  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, air conditioning
  • Insulation
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt)
  • Water heaters (non-solar)
  • Windows, doors, and skylights

The energy tax credits are small, but at least a credit is better than a deduction:

  • Deductions just reduce your taxable income.
  • With a credit, you get a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability: If you get the $500 credit, you pay $500 less in taxes.

Limits on IRS energy tax credits besides $500 max

  • Credit only extends to 10% of the cost (not the 30% of yesteryear), so you have to spend $5,000 to get $500.
  • $500 is a lifetime limit. If you pocketed $500 or more in past years combined, you’re not entitled to any more money for energy-efficient improvements in the above categories. But if you took $300 back then, for example, you can get up to $200 now.
  • With some systems, your cap is even lower than $500.
  • $500 is the max for all qualified improvements combined.

Certain systems capped below $500

No matter how much you spend on some approved items, you’ll never get the $500 credit — though you could combine some of these:

System Cap
New windows $200 max (and no, not per window—overall)
Advanced main air-circulating fan $50 max
Qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler $150 max
Approved electric and geothermal heat pumps; central air-conditioning systems; and natural gas, propane, or oil water heaters $300 max

And not all products are created equal in the feds’ eyes. Improvements have to meet IRS energy-efficiency standards to qualify for the tax credit. In the case of boilers and furnaces, they have to meet the 95 AFUE standard. EnergyStar.gov has the details.

Tax credits cover installation — sometimes

Rule of thumb: If installation is either particularly difficult or critical to safe functioning, the credit will cover labor. Otherwise, not. (Yes, you’d have to be pretty handy to install your own windows and roof, but the feds put these squarely in the “not covered” category.)

Installation covered for:

  • Biomass stoves
  • HVAC
  • Non-solar water heaters

Installation not covered for:

  • Insulation
  • Roofs
  • Windows, doors, and skylights

How to claim the energy tax credit

  • Determine if the system you installed is eligible for the credits. Go to Energy Star’s website for detailed descriptions of what’s covered; then talk to your vendor.
  • Save system receipts and manufacturer certifications. You’ll need them if the IRS asks for proof.
  • File IRS Form 5695 with the rest of your tax forms.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but isn’t intended to be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice, and remember that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

A Guide to 1031 Exchanges

In a 1031 Exchange, money from the sale of an investment property can be put towards another “like-kind” property. This means that an investor can exchange a commercial property for another, or a residential rental property for a commercial property. But, be careful! This deal is time-sensitive. You only have forty-five days to identify possible replacement properties, and one hundred and eighty days to close escrow on the actual replacement property. (The IRS is very strict about this timeline.)

And unfortunately, your own personal residence or vacation home cannot be used in the 1031. These properties are not considered to be of “like kind” to any real estate held for investment or business purposes (even if you conducted business from inside your home).

Check out the detailed guide below to sell as smartly as possible! Your heirs just might thank you.

1031Exchange

The cost of living in the U.S. INTERACTIVE

cost of living

Check out this interactive infographic that takes a look at the rankings of each state in terms of a whole host of factors including college tuition, gas prices, and home prices to name a few.


Produced By Online Accounting Degrees

All Cash Real Estate Sales By State [infographic]

New York comes in at #1 with 56% of sales in September 2014, being all-cash.

All-Cash RE Sales

Real Estate Prices vs. Super Bowl Appearances

Guest post from Andy Fulton

Fact: Seven of the 10 NFL teams that have gone to the Super Bowl the most (five times or more) are from cities with HIGH median home prices, when compared to the average median home price of cities with NFL teams.

Fact: Nine of the 13 NFL teams that have gone to the Super Bowl the least (one time or less) are from cities with LOW median home prices, when compared to the average median home price of cities with NFL teams.

These two facts beg the following question: Is there somehow a correlation between the number of times a professional football team has gone to the Super Bowl and the real estate prices found in their home city? Keep reading to find out!

Super-Bowl-Appearances-Real-Estate-Prices-2014

The History Of Mortgage Rates

HistoryofMortRates

What Impact Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Have On Prices?

3d diceMany pundits are warning that there will be a drop in real estate values because mortgage rates are beginning to increase. The logic makes sense. However, history shows that increasing rates have not negatively impacted home values in the past.

Four times over the last 30 years mortgage interest rates have dramatically increased. Here is the impact the increases had on home values at the time:

Dates

Mortgage Rate

Home Values

May ‘83 – July ‘84

12.63 – 14.67

+ 6.6%

March – Oct ‘87

9.04 – 11.26

+ 5.2%

Oct ’93 – Dec ‘94

6.83 – 9.2

+ 1.2%

April ’99 -May 2000

6.92 – 8.52

+ 10.9%

Perhaps the impact of increasing rates on future home prices won’t be as dramatic as some are predicting.

Top 10 Job Titles That Didn’t Exist 5 Years Ago

The workplace is constantly changing and how we define what we do is no exception. Since we just welcomed the new 2014, we thought it’d be fun to see how much our work has changed in the past few years. We examined the data of over 259 million members’ profiles to determine the top 10 most popular job titles that were nowhere to be found in 2008. Here is what we came up with.

top-10-job-titles-that-didnt-exist-5-years-ago_52cae9af44587