Minivans a good family-car buy?
Minivans aren't cheap, but they may be worth it for your family (Question #4). Also in today's Reader's Mailbag: saving for school (#1), splitting mortgage payments (#6), and finding a credit union (#8).
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If you have a good payment history, the first thing I suggest that you do is talk to your lender. Discuss the options with them and let them know that a short sale is something that you are considering. See what kind of packages they can come up with for you.Skip to next paragraph
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You can also take the same story to other banks who may be interested in picking you up as a customer, though they won’t have as much incentive as your current lenders.
I think most of this comes down to how underwater you are on these loans and whether or not your bank actually will refinance them in some sensible way. I can’t predict that – you’ll have to find out for yourself.
Q10: Tax breaks for window coverings?
I have looked high and low, both online and in stores, for information on the tax credit for energy efficient window coverings. I keep coming up with the same thing – “consult your tax professional to verify you qualify for the savings.” Well, guess what. I am the tax professional in this family – I do our taxes on TurboTax every year (splitting the cost of the software with family members.) Anyway, what information can the tax professional can read and understand that I can’t? Do you know the details of this credit? Thanks in advance for considering this question.
What’s actually happening here is that window covering manufacturers and salesmen are using some ambiguities in the tax code to promote something that isn’t really there.
Yes, there are a lot of tax breaks for energy efficient home improvements right now, as you can see here. The catch is that such tax breaks only apply for items that are “specifically and primarily designed to reduce heat loss or gain,” according to the IRS.
The problem is that the burden is on the homeowner to prove this, not on the manufacturer. The manufacturer can claim all they want that there are tax credits available for window coverings, but they only apply if the window coverings are highly efficient and are made primarily to reduce heat, like a rectangle that blocks all light and heat coming through the window.
Get window coverings that look good and are maybe a little efficient. Don’t waste your time trying to chase tax benefits through a vaguely written law unless you want to spend time proving to the IRS that your new window coverings actually provide a .30 solar heat gain coefficient in your home. If you want to save tax dollars with your windows, improve the windows themselves.
Got any questions? Email them to me or leave them in the comments and I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag. However, I do receive hundreds of questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.
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