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Here are some great tips that you can use for your current and past client newsletters or updates. Also good thoughts for your own finances as well.

Michelle Nantz's Blog

Your Top Home Ownership Tax Questions Answered

By: Natasha Padgitt

Published: December 31, 2012

Tax Time At Lake Norman

Which tax benefits do home owners miss? Will you get audited if you take the home office deduction? Find out the answers to these questions and more before Tax Day.

There are a lot of home ownership tax benefits — if you don’t forget to take them. To make sure you get your due, HouseLogic asked tax expert Abe Schneier, a senior technical manager with the American Institute of CPAs, for tax-filing tips.

HouseLogic: What’s the most common home-related tax deduction or credit claimed by home owners?

Abe Schneier: The mortgage interest deduction, [which the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® estimates amounts to about $3,000 in tax savings for the average itemizing home owner] and [the deduction for] real property taxes.

HL: Which tax provision do home owners often overlook?

AS: You can deduct mortgage insurance premiums [or PMI] if you were required to…

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Community Advocate 3/4/12: Wake up America!

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Money Savings or Power Brokering? A lesson on Gov’t Budgeting

The role of a public labor union regarding a state or federal budget has taken a dramatically nasty turn.  Teachers, court officials, fire fighters, police officers are being told that their right to representation as they know it is gone.  To the Republican Party it seems that they have created a national mandate to get rid of public employee unions to save money.  It’s because the union worker is getting more and more greedy, state and federal lawmakers say is the reason state budgets are bloated and part of the reason we cannot afford to continue the status quo.

While it is true, labor unions do not as a first strategy offer cuts and concessions and who would?  How many Corporate Executives look within theirselves first and demand that their wallets be cut to the same levels as their employees?  A public sector worker’s salary compared to their CEO or comparable counterpart is roughly 4-6 times less…and lets not talk about private employees to the CEO which typically are 20-100 times less.  Just because a group of workers pool their resources to advance their paychecks collectively, it does not mean that it is bad for society.  Many economists will argue that unions do play a beneficial role for society as a whole.  Think about this.  How much demand is there for skilled workers like firefighter, police officers and teachers outside of the public workforce? Therefore the need for a collective voice is greatly needed to ensure effective and safe working conditions, training, salary and benefits,  and a professional code of conduct and work ethic. 

In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder would give an “Emergency Financial Manager” for “Struggling” cities and schools the power to terminate labor union agreements and would give power to eliminate the state’s “Prevailing Wage” agreements on tax-funded projects.  So our cities, townships and villages plus our local school districts are too stupid to negotiate on their own with the local unions?  We are in an economic down turn.  Unions are willing to negotiate on most items because they want to be able to preserve the core tenants of their binding agreements. 

In Wisconsin where the battle for power started, the unions agreed to the list of concessions that needed to be met, it wasn’t enough.  It was about power.  Pure and simple.  This Governor, make no doubt about it, wants to be the face of the Republican party…and the nominee for 2016.  If this is the true stance of the Republican Party, which the National Republican Governors and the National Party have set up websites supporting Gov. Walker, what does this mean to the nation? 

Business leaders and the wealthy will get an even lower tax burden while we look to break the backs of the working class and poor.  Great strategy.  The best way to build an economy is to tax to hell the people who can afford it the least, and give them nothing in return.  In the meantime, have the people who can afford to pay their share in taxation, give them more of a tax break for what?  To horde more money and take jobs out of the state or worse the country.  There is something fundamentally wrong with this thinking. 

We all understand that this country and most of the state and local governments are broke.  We understand that concessions must be made.  But concessions must be made all the way around.  Our governments need to be fiscally responsible.  Corporate accountability must be met.  No longer can we continue to give corporations tax breaks who move jobs beyond our boarders.  Upper, middle, and lower class members must collectively take a shared interest and taxation if we are going to get out of this recession.  It can no longer be about me, it has to be about WE.

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Building a Real Government Budget

So we have all this talk at the water cooler, in our homes, and churches about the economy of our nation.  Each of us have a very unique thought about this subject.  Lets get one thing clear…yes this country has NO MONEY…and yes we have to find ways to find revenue. 

Having said this, if we truly had no money everyone, including our local, state, and federal government would be shut down.  Not like the “pretend public stances” paraded year in and year out by our elected officials, but really shut down.  Little boys and girls would not want to grow up to be fire fighters, police officers, teachers, or even President.  Why?  The jobs wouldn’t be there.  You know how it is in your house…if you have no money, what do you do?  Run to your credit card?  It’s maxed and the bank isn’t going to loan you another penny.  Dive into your savings?  Already did it. So what is your option?  Just say no.  If you can’t afford it you can’t do it.  Obviously, our government has money.  In fact, if it runs out, they only make more (how would you like that in your life?). 

We are hearing from the right that we have to slash our budgets by cutting education, taxing pensions, eliminating thousands of jobs…but be sure to give higher tax breaks to business.  Really? 

Lets see if I understand how this works.  If we break education with more unfunded mandates (No Child Left Behind), tax senior pensions, eliminate jobs (making our unemployment numbers rise), end the rights of a fair wage and compensation for millions are we really growing our economy?  Making our kids dumber by not educating does this make for a smarter and competitive workforce? Further, if we cut education how can we expect to see higher paying jobs in our communities with an under-educated workforce? Eliminating jobs?  This might be the stupidest idea, if you are not eliminating jobs that are repetitive.  By eliminating jobs, you are doing nothing more than pushing more people on an overburdened system (Unemployment or Welfare). I’m not sure how that’s saving taxpayer money, but in someone’s mind it is.

Given the way the talk about slashing budgets is going, how could we do it?  How could we have a budget that is about the needs of a country, while being fiscally prudent?  First we have to realize the needs of our people.  Education, affordable housing, jobs w/a living wage, health care and law and order.  These need to be fully funded. Stop playing around and get it done. 

Education-Fully fund Early Education (age 2-5) as well as k-12 and Post secondary education.  Education holds the key to low crime rates, better communities, better paying jobs, and urban revitalization. 

Affordable housing is a necessity.  Housing should only be 30-35 percent of the household income, yet for many households it’s really 50 percent or more.  This means our families are having to choose between rent/mortgage, food, bills, transportation, clothing, and other necessities.  This is unacceptable.  We are a country of too much.  We pay farmers to not grow crops for cryin’ out loud.  Why should our lower to middle class have to live paycheck to paycheck..or worse..payday loan to payday loan.

Jobs-Nationwide we are over 9% unemployed…this # doesn’t include those who have been out of work for more than 18 months. We have to find a catalyst to secure real jobs that pay real wages.  Our government shouldn’t be able to tout 35k new jobs  when those jobs are minimum wage at best.  You cannot sustain a household when you make minimum wage. Hell you cannot sustain yourself on minimum wage without a lot of help. 

Proposal: A Flat 10% sales tax.  This tax would affect everyone…it would also get rid of the IRS which would be a huge savings.  You could also get rid of most of the State Depts of Treasury divisions…keeping a skelton staff as it is sales tax that you pay not personal/commercial taxes.  States could impose a tax rate as the 10% would be a national figure. 

Proposal: A fee on business start ups and renewal business.  Might think this might be excessive…but a small tax or fee for business licenses…as there would be a tax on services and sales made by the business would be there to ensure that the business is legite and the people are protected.

Proposal: A national toll highway system. By having a toll system nationwide, this was make the cost of gas to go down.  As it stands, almost $1 of the price of gas/gal is tax alone….as of now that is 33% of the price..actually more. Think of what we could do with an extra $400 per person per month or more if you are a commercial driver or happen to drive an SUV or van.

Proposal: Health Care Tax on cigarettes, alcohol and fast food.  These are the major contributors to the health care bubble burst that we have experienced.  Therefore tax it.  The proceeds from these items would help fund national healthcare.

Proposal: Elimination of Homestead Taxation and implementing a Housing Trust Plan.  This tax would actually be used to implement true affordable housing.  And instead of taxing homeowners, homeowners would be “investing” in their community to provide rentals or low mortgage housing.  Homeowners would then receive a dividend on the housing credit received as a community.  Renters would pay a 2% financing fee that would go towards upkeep, and neighborhood revitalization. 

As you can see these are outside the box ideas.  Definitely not things being talked about or even whispered about.  But these could be real options to providing revenue.  We have to think this way if we are going to be pointed in our discussions and real in our decision making.

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About The Community Advocate

The Community Advocate’s mission is to be the voice of the Kalamazoo community for the issues of: education, civil rights, and other pertinent political issues.  We endeavor to be a sounding board for a real catalyst of change instead of just another blog or community conversation that has no end result.

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