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There, I said it.
Having been raised in California during the creation of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society by a mother who boycotted grapes, burned her bra and canvassed for McGovern might have something to do with it, though I’ve had plenty of years to examine my beliefs and to own them. Being a Democrat doesn’t mean I want to tax the wealthy at 50%, decimate the military, or take away your gun and sell it to an illegal alien who’ll pay for it with his welfare check , shoot you in the foot to rob you of your tax money while I’m eating bonbons at my best friend’s gay wedding. But I don’t believe compassion is a character flaw.
I love politics. As a real estate agent I’ve heard to keep them off your Facebook page— ya know, just so you don’t “alienate business”. Okay, I get that, I just don’t ascribe to it. When you run your business on the like-finds-like model of tribal attraction and relationship building, dialogue is critical. Criticism and cynicism are not. Though some of you are sure to disagree… I like to engage rather than provoke, try to keep the mix thoughtful, informative, humorous without the memes and not too snarky. I am not always successful, though admittedly biased. I welcome differences of opinion so long as they’re not rude or cruel, because I feel we need to practice civility by bringing our ideas forward and being held accountable for them. Disagreement is good if there is a willingness to listen and if not, you can usher personal attacks on friends to the door or sponge the haters off of the thread. As a businesswoman in a field populated by Republicans, I find my less vociferous left-leaning friends whisper to me at the water cooler, “I love reading your posts. I wish I could do that but, you know…” and I do… kind of. Perhaps I should keep that “separation of church and state” idea in mind when it comes to social media but I prefer that First Amendment thingy. Don’t you think honesty is a valuable trait in a real estate consultant? Wouldn’t you rather have someone who is relentlessly honest with you, even if it means telling you the house you love is over-priced and sitting on a toxic waste site? Negotiation is not for sissies and you can tell a lot by how one handles their Facebook wall. Having the courage to own what I believe in comes from the same part of me that will always take a stand on behalf of my clients and makes me good at what I do.
33.3% of all Americans identify themselves as Democrats, though it doesn’t follow that the term “Liberal” should be liberally applied to all of us any more than “Right-wing” fits every one of my GOP affiliated friends. I believe in fiscal and personal responsibility, in global warming, social safety nets, civil liberties, equal pay, and government regulation (because if the housing crisis taught us anything, it’s that human nature doesn’t always lean to its better side). I don’t believe that being there for one another is a character flaw.
The best hope for this country to right itself again is by admitting that neither side has all the answers. That just because I see the world differently, doesn’t make you wrong and visa versa. As long as we defending our absolutes, rather than championing our possibilities we will never be able to find solutions to the problems that keep us from being a truly Great Society. We must stop yelling at one another; regurgitating talk radio, cable news and partisan websites as if the ideas we’ve co-opted are our own because preaching platitudes is never the path to original thought. We must have the courage to look beyond the propaganda and seek to discover what we really think and why, and share it in an effort to understand rather than be right. Or as my proudly liberal mother used to say “A problem is never solved in a shouting match.”
In a matter of hours, hopefully not days, we will know the outcome of the 2012 election, and if the polls are correct they’ll be a dead heat of anguish and exhilaration. The spinners will spin and the snipers will snipe and both sides will keen it is the end of the world, and wouldn’t it be nice if it were? If we let go of the adversity and reclaimed the civility and manners that our parents taught us, perhaps we could teach Congress a thing or two. *snorts her coffee*


How would it affect you if you could no longer write off the interest you pay on your mortgage?
According to panelists at Friday’s housing forum hosted by Zillow and the University of Southern California’s Lusk Center for Real Estate:

The burgeoning federal debt makes it unlikely that the mortgage interest tax deduction will survive in its present form. Of course, any proposed changes to the tax break for homeowners will spark a fierce debate over the fundamentals of the U.S. housing market, the value of home ownership, and consumer behavior.

“Fierce debate” he says? I’d call it a jobs-killer! But then again, I’m in real estate. Change is never easy, but when it hits our pocketbooks and the government, it really hits home. I advise my clients to educate themselves, talk to their tax professional and view the tax benefits icing on the cake. Knowing the long-term financial upside leaves them feeling good and more secure as they move forward with their biggest single purchase.

“I think it’s entirely likely that something big is going to happen (with the MID) starting next year with either administration,” said Jason Gold, director and senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Progressive Policy Institute, an independent think tank.

A Congressional contingent advocates for the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction to help address the nation’s debt and budget deficit. Obviously things must be done to right the problem, but sticking it to a Middle Class whose beginning to feel the effects of a post-crisis housing market recovery seems a bit harsh. At the end of this year, a series of tax increases and spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect automatically unless Congress acts to prevent or alter them. Revamping the mortgage interest deduction is on the table as a way to head off that “fiscal cliff” scenario. (I wonder how many of those guys have a mortgage.)

Two years ago, a bipartisan deficit reduction commission recommended scaling back the mortgage interest deduction, which is currently capped at mortgages worth up to $1 million for both principal and second homes and home equity debt up to $100,000 and the deduction is only for taxpayers who itemize.
The Simpson-Bowles commission proposed turning the deduction into a 12 percent non-refundable tax credit available to all taxpayers, capping eligibility to mortgages worth up to $500,000, and eliminating the deduction on interest from second homes and home equity debt.

Though that seems more reasonable to me than the first idea, the National Association of Realtors has consistently defended the mortgage interest deduction in its current form.

Highly critical of the recommendation and claiming any changes to the MID could depreciate home prices by up to 15 percent, they are promising to “remain vigilant in opposing any plan that modifies or excludes the deductibility of mortgage interest.”

So… we’re back to whose going to pay down the debt? And how.

The MID is a “tax expenditure,” meaning its cost must either be made up through higher taxes elsewhere or by adding to the debt, and it costs the government about $90 billion a year. Richard Green, the director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, told forum attendees that reforming the MID is necessary for fiscal sustainability. “We need to get revenue,” Green said. “You need to make a judgment about what’s better or worse for the economy. In my opinion, it’s better to do it with tax expenditures, rather than rates, though you may have to do both to get to where we need to be.”
Because mortgage interest rates are currently so low, he added, “This may be an opportunity to do less damage by reforming the mortgage interest deduction than at other times.”

(I wonder what cuts would make this guy feel the pinch.)
The mortgage interest deduction is particularly polarizing because of the disconnect between how people use it and how it is perceived. Green gave the example of Texas where most people do not itemize their taxes (only about 30% of taxpayers do) so they cannot take advantage of the MID. This line of thought perplexes me. So… if more Texans itemized their taxes it would make things fairer? or does he mean that if they actually knew they could they would, adding to the deficit? And haven’t Texans done enough of that? 😉
No matter how the chad falls in the next three weeks, watch for ongoing and loud debates over the Mortgage Interest Deduction. *covers ears*

Source: Inman News, Andrea V. Brambila, Monday October 15, 2012


Hopefully the first is a long way off, but the second is looming once again. Whether you have an accountant on staff, go to the national tax franchise or are a DIY kinda guy/gal, some of these resources might help.
I learned a long time ago, never to attempt doing my own hair or my taxes, but as an independently-minded broad I want to arm myself with as much info as I can as I head into tax season, either to feel a sense of power or just to drive my tax guy crazy. So, as you sort through your envelopes, spread sheets, baskets, couch cushions and files, trying to squeeze every dime out of your tax return, check out these sites.
Because…not all of us keep our cash in the Caymans.
American Opportunity Tax Credit
Charitable Donation Tax Deduction
Tax Credit for Buying a Home (My fav!)
3 Tips to Maximize Itemized Deductions
Home Equity Loan Deduction
• Can I Deduct a Donation Made on a Credit Card?
Home Office Deduction
You can explore further by going to the IRS site and here are some lists created by my “staff CPA” or on. http://taxes.about.com/od/deductionscredits/Deductions_Credits.htm

Take heart, my friends, as you stay up into the wee hours, surrounded by piles and blinded by trying to read that faded ink…No matter how it ends up or which way the tax check is written, it’s your very own contribution toward reducing the national debt.
*laughs wildly*