4 Things To Know About Homestead Exemptions

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 5th, 2018

4 Things To Know About Homestead ExemptionsHomeowners are well aware that peripheral costs swell over time and can put a strain on incomes. Utility bills increase, home insurance creeps up annually and taxes rise with the cost of schools and road repair.

That’s why many communities have enacted homestead exemptions that can help stabilize and even lower tax bills in some cases. Although these exemptions are not well publicized, knowing how they work and how to apply could save you a good deal of money.

Understanding The Homestead Exemption

A homestead exemption helps homeowners lower and/or fix the amount you pay in local taxes. Qualifying property owners can have a portion of the assessment excluded from taxation. That allows your tax bill to be calculated at a lower rate than non-exempt properties. In some communities, full-time residents can set their annual tax bill at time of purchase or when they are granted the exemption. This has been a national trend to help our valued elders on fixed incomes such as Social Security.

Protection From Civil Lawsuits

Many states have homestead exemptions in place that protect residents from displacement. For example, if a resident has a civil judgment leveled against them, a homeowner may claim the homestead exemptions as a reason their property cannot be seized to offset the debt. In most cases, the exemption is dependent upon the amount of equity a person has accumulated. In some places, homestead exemptions set aside properties from the probate process in the event of a death. Simply put, homestead exemptions can act as a financial safeguard.

Homestead Exemption Eligibility

The exemption is generally a benefit only for the mortgage holder of a primary residence. The majority of states limit this benefit to full, free-standing homes. Some allow condominium and mobile home owners to also claim the exemption. Non-traditional homes may be limited to certain groups, including, disabled people, our valued elders or those who served in the military. The total exemption may also vary depending upon the type of property and class of citizen. Again, states recognize the need for economic stability for people on fixed incomes.

How To Claim An Exemption

Homestead exemption applications vary from state to state. In Illinois, for example, a reported fixed deduction is automatically given to all homeowners who reside in the state full time. Other states require residents to reapply each year. The process may include providing proof of ownership, full-time residency and exemption group status. The reapplication process can be tedious and serves as a deterrent against fraud. Most states require one-time application approval with simple updates, generally during assessment years.

Although homestead exemptions are generally not well known, check your local and state website for information. If you are planning on buying a home, consider homestead exemptions as a long-term cost-saving benefit. 

If you have questions about your current or future real estate investment, your trusted real estate professional is ready and available to help.

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How The 2018 Tax Changes Can Affect Your Mortgage

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 12th, 2018

How The 2018 Tax Changes Can Affect Your MortgageWhen the chatter was at its peak on the 2018 tax law changes being proposed, one of the big areas of concern for homeowners was the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction. Right behind that issue was a similar treatment with regards to property tax deductions.

As the rumors swirled and Congress moved, many feared both deductions had finally met their day and were going to be entirely eliminated, resulting in a major financial hit that many homeowners and particularly those in high real estate cost states would have felt painfully. As it turned out, there’s no reason to panic or suddenly dump titled real estate just because it has been bought with a mortgage. 

Yes, both issues were impacted by the 2018 tax law changes, but neither the mortgage interest deduction nor the property tax deduction were eliminated entirely. Instead, they were modified.

The changes include:

  • Mortgage interest deduction – the new laws cap the eligible debt to $750,000. While old loans originated prior to the law change date are still eligible up to $1 million, new mortgages created after the enactment date are caught in the lower universe. However, being realistic, most homebuyers are not in the bracket that afford a $750,000 plus priced home except maybe in a few communities such as New York City or the San Francisco/Bay Area in California. So the change basically means business as usual for 9 out of 10 homeowners in the U.S.
  • Real estate property taxes – total state and local taxes eligible for deduction are now capped at $10,000. This is where some homeowners could feel a pinch as a typical home in higher cost states easily generates property tax levels of $5,000 to $7,000 for a $300,000 home. So those units assessed a higher value by tax auditors will likely feel this new limitation take effect.
  • The standard deduction increase – remember, the above items are only useful to the extent that a tax filer itemizes his deductions. With a standard deduction now at $12,000 for an individual and $24,000 for a married couple, filing jointly, the option to itemize could go away entirely if the standard deduction provides a higher level of tax savings overall. And then that makes the above two deductions entirely moot and useless. Of course, it’s not entirely a plus since the personal exemption is also eliminated, thus reducing the benefit of the higher standard deduction by as much as $4,150 per person. In essence, the change is a wash, but could be enough to bar use of itemization, which would hurt greatly.

So the changes did not wipe out any benefit entirely (except the personal exemption). Instead, the real impact depends on which change applies to a specific taxfiler’s situation.

This is why two homeowners in the same town with the same house and market value could end up having very different tax results with the 2018 changes. Because there is so much variance.

As always, work with a trusted tax professional in order to understand how these changes will affect your personal tax situation.

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Tax Breaks Granted By The 2012 Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

Posted in Taxes by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 6th, 2013

Taxes are due April 15, 2013There was plenty of discussion and debate leading up to the New Year’s looming “fiscal cliff”. Ultimately, the event was avoided, but not before legislation was passed which may benefit homeowners in Birmingham and nationwide. 

If you have yet to file your 2012 taxes, take a minute to review the tax limitations and credit extensions, which Congress passed through the HR 8 legislation. You’ll want to ensure you’re paying the proper tax bill come April 15.

Of course, every individual’s tax situation is unique. Review your allowable deductions and credits with your tax preparer.

Energy Updates
The tax credit for homeowners to receive a ten percent deduction, up to $500, for energy efficient improvements to homes is extended for 2013.

Estate Tax
Individual estates valued at up to five million dollars and family estates valued at up to ten million are now exempt from estate tax. After those cutoffs, the rate is 40 percent, which is up from 35 percent.

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act
This act was also extended through 2013. It means that debt reduced through mortgage restructuring or debt forgiven in the case of a foreclosure may not be taxable.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums
This deduction for those making under $110,000 is extended through 2013. This deduction is also available retroactive for 2012. Mortgage insurance premiums paid as part of a conventional or FHA mortgage are eligible, as are premiums paid to the USDA.

Pease Limitations
These limitations that reduced the value of itemized deductions are permanently repealed for most taxpayers. However, they will be re-instituted for individuals making over $250,000, and for married couples making over $300,000 and filing jointly.

As a homeowner, you get access to special tax breaks which are unavailable to renters throughout Michigan and the country. Don’t leave tax dollars on the table. Speak with your accountant to see what claims you may make.

The deadline for filing 2012 federal tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2013.

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