Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary — know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.
Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes
You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind — that is, you’re not billed for 2011 property taxes until 2012. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.
Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2011, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, tax manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen home owners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount. Continue reading
Take a look at the most common things that can go wrong when you have guests and learn how to prevent them.
That’s just one of many hosting nightmares that can end your holiday party before it even begins. Thankfully, some of the most damaging mishaps easily can be avoided. We collected five of the most prevalent issues and give you preventative tips to keep your holiday party on track.
Problem: The oven doesn’t heat
For any holiday occasion, the oven is the most important appliance in your house. If it fails to work, the centerpiece of your meal could go from roasted beef, ham, duck, or Tofurky to Peking Duck from the local Chinese takeout joint. Continue reading
Your hot water heater eats energy: We want to reduce its appetite. Here are inexpensive things you can do to increase efficiency and cut energy bills.
Saving Energy Tip #1: Wrap your heater in a blanket
Your water heater needs a blanket in the winter to stay warm, especially if it lives in an unheated space. A fiberglass insulating blanket can cut heat loss by 25% to 40% and save 4% to 9% on the average water-heating bill of $308, says the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
Insulating blankets are easy to install and Continue reading
Solving wet-basement problems is one of the most important things you can do to protect the value of your home and health of your family.
Some wet basements are easy to cure simply by clearing gutters and by diverting gutter water away from the foundation. But if the problem comes from other sources—water flowing toward the house on the surface, seeping in from underground, or backing up through municipal storm drains—you must take more aggressive action.
Here are eight strategies to keep water out of your basement: Continue reading
Caulking and adding new weatherstripping can make old windows more efficient.
An average home loses up to 30% of its heating and cooling energy through air leaks. The most significant air leaks tend to occur around windows and doors. To stop air leaks and prevent your home heating and cooling dollars from vanishing in the wind, it’s important to seal any air leaks around windows and doors.
Check for air leaks
With windows and doors closed, hold a lit stick of incense near window and door frames where drafts might sneak in. Watch for smoke movement. Note what sources need caulk, sealant, and weather-stripping. Continue reading
Fixing mold damage is an expensive and time-consuming home repair. But you can save time and money by implementing these 10 ounces of prevention.
Mold spores are always present indoors, particularly in humid areas. You can minimize mold growth, however, by buying a humidity monitor, which helps you keep track of home moisture that lets these spores colonize.
Here are 10 more ways to control and combat mold in your home. Continue reading