Impact of the New Tax Bill on Homeowners – Does It Make Cents?

If you’re like most people, you’ve been hearing a lot about the new tax bill from both sides of the aisle.  Predictions are all over the board as far as what it means to the average American.  Viewpoints range from an Armageddon-like implosion of the entire financial system to the invention of the wheel which will transform society.  As with most predictions, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.

Here’s my take on what the new tax bill means to homeowners and the real estate they own.  It’s important to understand that this bill doesn’t affect your 2017 tax return.  It will go into effect starting next year and expire on December 31, 2025.

Tax Rates

Here are the new tax tables to compare what is in place now versus what we will be coming up next year:

(Click charts for larger view)

Single Taxpayer Comparison

Married Taxpayer Comparison

The new law provides generally lower tax rates for all individual tax filers.  While this does not mean that every American will pay lower taxes, under these changes, many will.

My take:

Virtually all homeowners will benefit by having lower tax rates contrary to what many political pundits would have you believe.  All you have to do is look at the charts.  Continue reading

Should You Consider Private Flood Insurance?

Thirty years ago, when I was starting my real estate career, I met Bill Ross and his wife Hope and had the privilege of helping them sell their home in Lancaster County.  Since that time, Bill has become a managing partner of Ross Insurance Agency and spurred its growth to one of the premier, independent insurance agencies in Lancaster County.

Over the past month, we have witnessed the devastating damage caused by floodwaters in the state of Texas.  Many of the images we have seen are of quaint residential neighborhoods that were destroyed by the torrential rain dumped on this area by Hurricane Harvey.  What is even more astounding is that most of these flooded areas are not in a flood zone as defined by the government. Homeowners are left wondering, “Could this happen to me?”

Bill recently wrote an article that appeared on the Lancaster County Association of REALTORS® blog, “Closing Comments”, that I thought was both interesting and informative.  Hope it provides you with valuable insight and helps you determine whether private flood insurance is something you should consider. Continue reading

Common Myths About the Lancaster County Property Tax Reassessment

Ever since Lancaster County announced that it would conduct a county-wide property tax reassessment, there have been myths circulated as facts by residents that don’t understand the reassessment.  And as is the case with most myths, somehow they get bantered around as facts and cause people to formulate false assumptions that have nothing to do with reality.  So let’s start shattering some myths.

MYTH:  I got my new reassessment in the mail and it went up $25,000.  I’m going to get killed when I get my next tax bill.

Take a deep breath.  Not necessarily.

There are two factors used when calculating a property’s real estate taxes.  Here is the basic formula:  Assessed Value X Millage Rate = Real Estate Taxes.

During a reassessment year in Pennsylvania, millage rates must be adjusted so that a taxing jurisdiction (i.e. county, municipality, school districts) doesn’t collect any more taxes than it did the previous year prior to the reassessment.  In other words, the amount collected must be revenue neutral.  As a result, you could have some property owners pay more, some will pay less, and for some, it will be a wash.

If the county and municipality feel they need to increase total tax revenue during a reassessment year to cover costs, they have to hold a special vote.  However, the additional revenue is capped at 10% from the preceding tax year.  School districts have a lower cap which is provided by the State Department of Education.  At present, that index is around 2-3%. Continue reading