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

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

Peak Behind the Curtain on Short-term Rentals

I’ve recently been asked by a number of people if I thought it was a good idea to rent their home through a national website to earn some additional cash.  After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Aside from your house being trashed while you’re away, here are three things to keep in mind if you are considering renting out your house on a short-term basis.

1. Legality

The rise in popularity of Airbnb and other sites hasn’t been without its controversy. There are concerns that short-term rentals threaten the jobs of hotel workers, and that a short-term rental doesn’t have to pass the same certifications and inspections of regular hotels. Finally, many investors are buying properties with the intent of renting them out, which takes housing off the market in areas with already limited inventory (check out this article from The Los Angeles Times to learn more).

Some cities have enacted restrictions against short-term rentals. You may need to register and get a permit or a license – or you may not be able to host at all. Check with your local government to make sure you understand the laws. Continue reading