Deborah Keenaghan's Blog
You generally pay taxes year round. Unless you’re taking advantage of a special deal, you pay taxes with each purchase that you make. Taxes are added onto your cable and utility bills. And, of course, taxes are deducted from your income.
You pay enough taxes, start saving with home office deductions
Work out of a home office as a small business owner and you could be responsible for reporting and paying business sales tax. Another situation when you’ll pay taxes if you work out of a home office is if you work as an independent contractor. Generally, clients won’t deduct income taxes from payments that they make to you.
In addition to paying income tax, as an independent contractor, you are responsible for paying Medicare and Social Security taxes. These taxes are typically paid to the IRS once a quarter. The start of the year is a time when you can take home office deductions, saving yourself from paying more taxes.
Home office tax deductions you could qualify for
The type of home office tax deductions that you can take depend on the type of business that you operate out of your home. If you travel a lot as part of your business, create a log to track your mileage. Also, keep a list of client and prospect names for people you conduct dining business meetings with.
Here is a list of some home office tax deductions that you might be eligible for. As with any tax deduction, check with the IRS or an experienced and certified accountant before you take the deductions.
- Mileage – You could deduct mileage that is related to business trips. Keep a log of each trip, including where you went and the reason for the trip (i.e. ABC client year end meeting).
- Utilities – A portion of your home office utilities could qualify as a deduction
- Rent or mortgage – If you use a part of your home solely for business purposes, you could receive a tax deduction for the space
- Health insurance – As an independent contractor, you may pay for your own health insurance. You could deduct your health insurance premiums off your taxes
- Marketing and advertising expenses – This includes online and offline marketing and advertising
- Home office supplies – Computers, copiers,papers, etc. are types of home office supplies that you could deduct
- Shipping and handling – Keep your postage receipts, as they could be deducted
Take the right home office tax deductions
Operating a successful home office business is not cheap. Marketing, advertising and product development expenses can run into hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. If your business has attracted lots of interest, you could spend a sizable portion of money on shipping and handling and customer service support.
Be a smart business owner and file home office deductions that you are legally eligible for. Doing so could keep you from paying hundreds or more in taxes that you don’t legally have to pay. Protect yourself by keeping copies of receipts,including business related entertainment expenses, for at least seven years.
Keep an electronic and a print copy. If you aren’t sure whether or not you qualify to take a home office tax deduction, check with a certified accountant, someone who has experience filing taxes for independent contractors or small business owners. The official IRS website is another great resource to use to learn which home office tax deductions you qualify for. It is at the official IRS website where you can also find and download reporting forms like the Schedule C.
What should be on your calendar?Each home is unique and will require different types of maintenance. But in general, most homes share characteristics that can be applied to your situation. We'll break up maintenance into two categories: safety and upkeep. Safety For the well-being of you and your family, be sure to add these items to your list:
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors checked (monthly)
- Smoke and carbon monoxide batteries changed (every 6 months)
- Fire extinguisher checked (every 12 months)
- Test door and window locks (every 12 months)
- Inspect your HVAC filters (every 3 months)
- Clean the drains of your sinks and shower (every month)
- Test seldom used objects like spare bathroom sinks and toilets (every 2 months)
- Clean refrigerator coils and vent (every 6 months)
- Replace water filters in refrigerator, sink, etc. (every 6 months)
- Clean your gutters and drainage system (every 12 months)
- Repair ripped window and door screens (every 12 months)
Seasonal maintenanceIf you live in an area that has significant climate changes throughout the seasons, then there are an whole host of maintenance tasks required to prepare for the change of weather. Some common tasks include:
- Turning off outdoor water to avoid frozen pipes
- Replacing door screens with glass
- Cleaning, installing, and uninstalling air conditioners
- Sealing or repaving walkways and driveways
- Cleaning chimneys
- Dusting off heaters
- Inspecting your roof shingles
Creating your calendarNow that you know what to put in your calendar, its time to decide how you're going to make it. If you carry your smartphone with you everywhere and check it constantly, it might be a good idea to use a good calendar app, preferably one that syncs with your other calendars (work, Facebook, etc.). Google Calendar allows you to categorize calendar events by colors, sync between accounts, and invite others to events (such as when you need your family's help with something on your list). If you're not big on technology, you could always keep a calendar attached to your refrigerator or in a frequented spot in the house that you and your family will remember to check often. Whichever method you choose, the important thing is to find one that works for you so that you don't forget these important items to keep your house, home, and family safe.
Tourism is big in New England. Even so, New England states offer much more than rich historical locations. Culture, enterprise, social and community traditions help to make New England a great place to live and raise a family. There is no other region of the United States that is older than New England. If you value and appreciate history, New England is a great place to call home.
Diverse Landscapes – Oceans, beaches,mountainous areas and flat lands make up New England. Looking for great beaches?There’s Cape Cod, Nantucket, Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard, to name a few. Quaint villages in areas like the Hull and Truro make for memorable, relaxing getaways. Of course, you could also purchase property in one of New England’s villages and regularly enjoy a quieter and calmer pace of living. But, that’snot all. Mountainous landscapes include Mount Washington, Mount Flume, Mount Liberty and Mount Mansfield.
Food – Although it’s famous for its breweries, New England offers savory food items. There’s hot clam chowder to warm you on cold afternoons. Cranberries, maple syrup, steamed clams, cheese and lobster are New England staples.
Waterways – Numerous lakes and rivers provide for great fishing. If you’re into fishing, board a boat and spend the afternoon relaxing while you travel down waterways like the Pow Pow River, Lake Attitash or the Kennebec River.
Sports – You don’t have to be an outdoors person to get into New England sports. If you love football, there’s the Super Bowl winning New England Patriots. Not a football fan? You and your family could attend Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, the Connecticut Sun or Boston Bruins’ games. You could also enjoy taking in one or more minor league athletic events.
Business – Major corporations, midsize companies and small businesses thrive in New England. If you’re an entrepreneur at heart, you could start a family business and potentially see a spike in sales if your business is located in a major business hub or if your business is located in a busy tourist spot. Cities like Boston, Hartford and Worcester are known for robust enterprise.
Education – Harvard University, Boston College, Yale University, Brown University, Dartmouth College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are located in New England. Secondary public schools offer robust curriculum to prepare students for admittance into one of the area colleges or universities.
Literature – Ralph Waldo Emerson, W. E.B. DuBois, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost were either born or lived in New England. Storyland in Glen, New Hampshire takes popular childhood stories like Cinderella and Mother Goose from the printed page to the stage, connecting children and adults to the celebrated stories even more.
Arts and Crafts – Several arts and crafts festivals are held throughout the region, many are free to enter. You can also enjoy street festivals and local seasonal arts and crafts shows. Come as an artist and showcase your talents.
Climate – Just as New England offers diverse landscape, it also offers diverse climate. All four seasons are experienced in the region.
National Landmarks - About 20% of America’s historical sites or national landmarks are in New England. The country’s first public park, oldest newspaper and largest producers of blueberries hail from New England. Among the area's national landmarks are the Edward Bellamy House, Acadia National Park, Lebanon Green, John Adams’birthplace, W. E. B. DuBois’ childhood home, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s home and House of the Seven Gables.
Running out of things to do in New England is hard, especially if you like to get out and visit new sites. Schools, worship, entertainment, sports, shopping and community enriching offerings help to educate, inspire and strengthen people of all ages and from a broad range of backgrounds. You don’t have to be an avid fan of an area professional sports team to become a proud New Englander.
Moving into a new house can easily become the most challenging part of buying a home. Let a move get too far off track and within four to five short days, you could even regret buying the house that you know meets each of your residence needs.
These small things could ruin the move to your new residence
Lack of organization may be the single most leading factor that turns a house move into a disaster. Stacking moving boxes against the wall doesn't mean that you're organized for a smooth house move. In fact, if you don't do these simple things, it could wind up taking you twice as long to move:
- Contact your current utility providers and find out exactly what you need to do to transfer utilities to your new address. If you're going with a different utility company, find out when you need to have your current utilities shut off to avoid paying for another month of service.
- Take a few days to create a move checklist. Add everything that you need to do to the list.
- Get enough moving boxes to fit all of your belongings inside without having to push or stuff items in the box.
- Ensure that you have enough furniture coverings and cushions for breakable items like lamps, glasses and dinnerware.
- Identify books, clothes and other items that you know you're not going to use. Donate these products to charity. You could also host a flea market or garage sale and raise money while letting others take ownership of the products.
- Schedule time to clean your current home or apartment. This includes setting aside enough time to clean cabinets, floors, bathrooms and kitchens.
- Drop cable boxes and other leased utility products off with the associated vendors. Just by holding onto some items like cable boxes, you could end up having to pay another month for cable services.
- Settle outstanding bills with your current landlord.
- Complete and submit a change of address form with the post office.
- Let insurance companies, banks and other financial service providers know that you're moving.
- Communicate your move, including your new address and telephone number to family and friends you trust.
Final notes on a good move
It doesn't take a lot to turn a house move into a disaster. Forgetting to contact a utility provider, return leased products or notify certain people and organizations that you're moving could become more than a nuisance. This forgetfulness could cost you financially.
Lack of other move decisions could require you to load and unload your moving truck double the number of times that you'd have to if you were better organized. Even if you pay professional movers to transport your household belongings to your new address, it only takes a few simple things to make the move time take longer. Let that happen and you could pay $100 or more extra to the professional movers.
Worse still is the fact that simple move mistakes can force you to leave your belongings unattended long enough to return to find the belongings gone. To avoid these and other mishaps, create and use a move checklist. Give yourself time to consider all of the things that you need to transfer, pack, shut off and finalize before you move.