Tax season is on the horizon and big changes are ahead – the new tax bill will go into effect on January 1, 2018. Depending on your individual situation, there may be a few things you can do now to prepare for those changes, including maximizing your 2017 tax deductions.
Under current tax law, homeowners can deduct taxes paid to state and local governments, including property, income, and sales tax.
The new law caps the deduction at $10,000, either for property taxes in addition to state and local income taxes, or sales tax.
By prepaying property taxes that would otherwise be due in 2018, some taxpayers may be able to claim a deduction on their 2017 individual income tax return that would otherwise be lost in 2018 under the new legislation.
If you and your tax advisor decide to prepay your taxes, here is a list of prepayment options.
- Cook County residents may prepay the 2017 1st installment tax bill (55% of the total 2016 bill) at cookcounytreasurer.com.
- DuPage County residents may prepay up to 105% of their 2016 real estate tax bill at dupageco.org.
- Lake County residents may prepay up to 100% of their 2016 bill. Any balance will be billed in 2017. More information is available at lakecountyil.gov.
- McHenry County residents may prepay a deposit of any amount toward their 2017 bill at co.mchenry.il.us. The deposit amount will be held until 2017 tax bills are issued. Any difference must be settled by the due date of the 1st Installment.
- Will County residents may prepay a minimum of 50% and a maximum of 110% of the 2016 bill at willcountytreasurer.com.
Taxpayers who fall under the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) will not receive a benefit from pre-paying. So before making any payments or claiming deductions, it’s always important that you check with your personal tax advisor for advice specific to your property or portfolio.
Written by Maris Callahan, @properties
Selling your home during the holiday season can add stress to an already busy time of the year. While selling your home over the holidays has its advantages, it also means you may need to modify how you deck the halls, prepare your home and entertain guests.
If you’re selling your home over the holidays, we have a few tips to help you as you host those traditional gatherings and simultaneously find that perfect buyer.
Keep your holiday decorations simple
If your house is on the market, you have already (hopefully) pared down each room, removing clutter, both visual and physical. If you plan on having a Christmas tree, there are a few things that you can do to make life easy on yourself.
David Jablonowski suggests decorating and entertaining as you normally would — tradition is tradition, after all, but says to keep it simple wherever possible — including skipping the authentic tree in favor of an artificial one.
“Use an artificial tree so that you aren’t hurriedly vacuuming errant pine needles in the moments prior to a showing. If you have a large tree, try to keep it to a visual minimum, decorating with simple white lights and keeping ornament color to one or two.
You want to ensure that the home does not feel crowded, and that potential buyers can walk around easily, so consider taking a piece of furniture out of the room to compensate for the addition of a tree.
Keep other decor to a minimum; a simple wreath on the door and a glass bowl of silver ornaments can still deliver a festive look without overpowering the rest of the home.
Resist the desire to fill the mantle of your fireplace with a lighted ceramic holiday village, avoid electric trains around the tree (easy to trip on), and if the presents under the tree start to spill out into the rest of the room, you might want to store some of them until Christmas Day.
Keep in mind that you’ll be packing up all of these things soon enough if you are moving, so get ahead of the game by opting to forego the holiday tablecloth, Santa bedsheets, and that vintage sled.
Instead, think of how excited you will be to see these in your new home next season.”
Show off your perfect home for entertaining
If you have a home that is well equipped for entertaining, Stephanie Parent adds that hosting can prove to be an asset to the sale of your home.
“If you are hosting over the holidays my suggestion is to make sure your home is decorated like you staged it. With family and friends coming over for holiday celebrations you may be entertaining your home’s next owner.
Seeing your home sparkle at this time of the year may spark the interest of a guest or better yet have them tell people about what a great home you have for entertaining.
Word of mouth advertising for your home may be just the thing to get your home sold.”
Entertain your buyers, too!
Tis the season to eat drink, and be merry. Katie Dunlop suggests flexing your host or hostess muscle when your broker has showings.
“A homeowner can absolutely decorate for holiday guests — just don’t go over board, think simple and classy and it will make prospective buyers feel at home.
Having some of those extra yummy holiday treats or drinks on the kitchen counter won’t hurt either. As they snack it gives the listing agent an opportunity to ask questions, get to know them and obtain feedback that can help aid your sale.”
Ask for help when you need it
Sometimes, hosting out-of-town guests for holidays is simply unavoidable. If you must host guests, Pam Lynch suggests enlisting their help to get your home up to par for showings.
“If you are having out-of-town guests, be sure to let them know that your house is on the market and you may need to accommodate strangers in the house with very short notice.
Most guests will be happy to help you by keeping their suitcases packed and slipped under the bed if a showing occurs.
You can even enlist extended family to help you make beds, keep luggage organized, keep toiletries tidy, and make sure all living spaces are spotless for showings. Prepare ahead by ensuring that each guest room has plenty of room in the closet and or even an empty dresser drawer to stash belongings – especially personal ones like medications, jewelry, cash or other valuables.”
Plan accordingly with your guests
Whether you’re hosting guests overnight or simply for a special meal or gathering, Jennifer Riccolo DeBower emphasizes how important it is to plan ahead — both for showings and for your events.
“If you are having guests stay with you pick a two hour window each day where you know it will be easiest to have the home show ready and everyone out of the house to accommodate buyers.
Conversely, if you know your guests will all be over for a special meal give your agent the instruction to avoid the particular day or certain hours of that day.”
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