The Act contains a lot of information and certainly cannot be summed up in one short article, but there are some provisions that are worth noting. You should consult with your tax advisor about things you may need to change/adjust in 2018 and the potential impact on both your personal and business finances.
Do Minnesota cities have a legal right to inspect rental properties without any evidence of code violations? That’s the critical question that will be answered in a case now headed to the Minnesota court of Appeals.
The case involves Jason and Jackie Wiebesick’s Golden Valley duplex. The city was requesting an inspection in order to renew the couple’s rental license. City housing inspectors were refused access after the couple’s tenants felt such a visit amounted to an invasion of privacy.
“This is about the right to be left alone,” Attorney Anthony Sanders said.
Sanders is with the Institute for Justice, which took on the couple’s case.
“The principle in this case is whether or not a government can come into your home without evidence there’s anything wrong in your home,” he said.
After the Wiebesicks refused access, the city asked a Hennepin County judge for an administrative warrant. Judge Susan Robiner denied the request. Golden Valley now hopes the Minnesota Court of Appeals will affirm its ordinance and grant the inspection when they hear the case this spring.
“What’s at stake is a simple matter of making sure we have safe housing that meets minimal standards,” Golden Valley Fire Chief John Crelly said.
Chief Crelly says inspections are needed to assure the safety of all tenants as inspections search for fire hazards and other code violations. He says the city will normally give 48 hours of notice.
“In general, there are no unannounced inspections,” Crelly said.
But the Wieiebeseck’s say such inspections are unreasonable, because the city provides on evidence of any prior wrongdoing as basis for the administrative warrant.
“What we’re trying to reaffirm is the old rights that the government cannot pass the threshold unless it has a good reason,” Sanders said.
Chief Crelly points out that not all safety violations are obvious and often catch both tenants and landlords by surprise.
Attorneys for the couple say there’s nothing to prevent a tenant or landlord from requesting an inspection.
The case will be watched closely by other municipalities because the outcome could indeed set a statewide precedent. The League of Minnesota Cities has already filed an amicus brief, supporting Golden Valley and the need for inspection access.
It’s the last year for three sweet home tax benefits, but the first for a way simpler home office deduction.
These days few things start a fight on Capitol Hill faster than taxes. Despite the fact that three important tax benefits used by millions of American homeowners are days from expiring, Congress is unlikely to do anything to re-up them any time soon.
So if you’re eligible, tax year 2013 is possibly the last time to claim the private mortgage insurance (PMI) deduction, the energy tax credit, and debt forgiveness benefit, all of which all expire on Dec. 31, 2013.
At least there’s one piece of good news for homeowners: If you have a home office, there’s a new, simpler option for calculating the home office deduction for which you may qualify on your 2013 taxes.
Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about those expiring benefits as you ready your taxes:
This tax rule lets you deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance, which is what you pay your lender each month if you put down less than 20% on a home. PMI protects the lender if you default on the home loan. Your deduction could amount to a couple hundred dollars depending on your tax bracket and other factors.
This sweet little tax credit lets you offset what you owe the IRS dollar-for-dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain home energy-efficiency upgrades, from insulation to water heaters. On the downside, the credit is capped at $500 (less in some cases). But on the bright side, the right improvement could lower your utility bills indefinitely.
When you go through a short sale, foreclosure, or deed-in-lieu, your lender typically lets you off the hook for some or all of what you owe on your mortgage.
That forgiven mortgage debt is income, on which you’d typically have to pay income tax.
Suppose you’re in financial distress and your lender agrees to let you short-sell your home, say for $50,000 less than you owe on the mortgage, and forgive you for the balance. Without the protection of the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, you’ll owe income tax on that $50,000.
It’s likely if you had the money to pay income tax on $50,000, you’d have used it to pay your mortgage in the first place.
New Simplified Option for the Home Office Deduction
This may be the last year for the benefits above, but a new one kicks in for the 2013 tax year. If you work from home, you may qualify to use a new, simplified option for claiming the home office deduction when you file your 2013 taxes.
How much simpler is it? It lets you claim $5 per sq. ft. for up to 300 sq. ft. instead of having to compute the actual expenses of your home office using a 43-line form. To calculate the square footage of your office, just multiply the length of two walls. For example, an 8-by-10-foot room is 80 sq. ft. And at $5 per, that’s $400.
Although using the simplified option is obviously easier, the basic requirements for claiming the home office deduction haven’t changed. Your home office still must be used for business purposes:
Exclusively, and on a regular basis.
Why Might the Tax Benefits Not Be Renewed?
Although the expiring tax benefits were renewed retroactively in past years that may not happen in 2014 because many in Congress would like to see comprehensive tax reform rather than scattershot renewals of individual provisions. This could delay a decision on the homeownership tax benefits until the big picture budget and tax issues are resolved.
So if you can, enjoy them now!
By: Dona DeZube @ Houselogic
Have you heard about reverse mortgages or perhaps you have one? Reverse mortgages let people that are at least 62 years old convert their home equity to cash. The homeowner has the option of taking out one lump sum or payments over time. Normally these reverse mortgages are not paid back by the homeowner, but they are due with interest if the homeowner dies, moves or sells the home. How can someone default on such a mortgage?
To be considered delinquent you need to be behind on your insurance and or property taxes for the home. If you fall into default, you can end up in foreclosure just as any delinquent mortgage will. Because the homeowners with reverse mortgages are normally on a fixed/limited income, there is help available if you become delinquent. The NCOA (National Council on Aging) 800-510-0301 may be able to help or find you help. Another resource is benefitscheckup.org which is a database of over 2000 government and nonprofit programs that may provide assistance.
In 2012, there were about 600,000 active reverse mortgages with 9.8% being in default, in 2011 there were only 8% in default. If you are in default on your reverse mortgage, don’t ignore it! Go out and get help before it is too late!