McCurdy Group - Insurance and Financial Consultants

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tax Treatment of Energy Saving Improvements

If you are planning to make energy saving improvements to your home and you do so before the end of 2009, you can get a tax credit on your 2009 return. The following are some of the highlights:
10% credit up to $200 on window/skylight/storm window replacements
10% credit up to $500 for exterior doors and storm doors
10% credit up to $500 for installing insulation
$300 for >14 SEER HVAC replacement
$150 for >95 AFUE boiler/furnace replacment
Even if you purchase multiple products you can only get a maximum of $1,500 over the 2-year period (2009 & 2010). Basically you can spend up to $5,000 during this 2 year period on a single or multiple products, and get 30% or $1,500 (30% of $5,000 = $1,500) back as a tax credit. If you get the entire $1,500 credit in 2009, then you can't get anything additional in 2010.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

OSHA Compliance

My brother, a small business owner, told me that he was recently contacted via telephone by a salesperson claiming to be selling log books required by OSHA. He explained that the salesperson was insisting that these logs and checklists would be his protection upon an OSHA inspection. “Just give me your address, we’ll mail them and then we will bill you.” Being more familiar with plastering than government safety standards, his only saving grace were his instincts. “It felt like a scam,” he said.

Most business owners are familiar with the saying, “knowledge is power”. In this case, I would recommend going to the source of these standards: OSHA! They have an entire website designated to helping small businesses understand what they need to be compliant;, complete with a handbook which, in their words, “should help small business employers meet the legal requirements imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act), and achieve an in-compliance status before an OSHA inspection”. It includes an extensive self-inspection checklist, which can be tailored to meet your own business environment and guidelines for work-related injuries / illness recordkeeping. This handbook, along with the logs for recordkeeping, are all on the website and available at no cost.

So, was it a scam? I would say “no”. Like your business, this company is charging a fee for a service. But, we’ve all heard that saying, “don’t buy the cow, if you can get the milk for free…” .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Requiring Certificates of Insurance from Contractors

Copies of Insurance Certificates should be obtained by a homeowner before he or she hires any worker for some work to be done on the home. For example, a chimney sweep, roofer, painter, etc. all should show proof of current insurance before any work begins, to protect the homeowner.

Buyers/Shoppers Beware!

There is yet another scam for consumers to beware of this season – using debit cards! If you use debit cards or even credit cards that can get “cash back” – be sure to check your slips BEFORE leaving the store! The scam is that some clerks have put the ‘cash back’ option on prior to your signing for your purchase. If you do not checked your receipt carefully, you may not notice the ‘cash back’ listed on the slip. The clerk is pocketing your money! Only small amounts money, usually $20, is stolen so many people won’t notice a discrepancy when buying a lot of items. So…..if you use a card of any kind, be sure to check your receipts carefully!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mass Registry Name Change

Due to the creation of the new Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), effective November 1st customers paying the RMV by check (or money order) should make their checks payable to MassDOT.

First Time Homebuyer Credit

I’m sure most everyone has heard about the First Time Homebuyer Credit by now. The Federal Government is giving an $8,000 tax credit, which is refundable (after any taxes owed, you will receive check for the balance) to first time buyers. This was set to expire on December 1, 2009 but now has been extended. Buyers must enter into a binding contract by April 30, 2010 and close on the property by June 30, 2010.

There are very specific rules and it is important that you understand all of them before assuming that you are eligible. A couple of the highlights are: In order to qualify you cannot have owned a home within the last 3 years prior to the date of your new purchase. If you are married, even if only one of you had owned prior property, neither one of you qualify for this credit. There are cases that you will have to pay back the money (if you sell your property within 36 months of purchase).

Also under the new legislation passed on November 6, 2009, there is a new credit available to first time, long-time homeowners who buy a replacement principal residence. They may claim a credit of up to $6,500. They must have lived in the same principal residence for any five-consecutive year period during the eight-year period that ended on the date the replacement home is purchased.

People with higher incomes can now qualify for the credit. The new law raises the income limits for homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009. The credit phases out for individual taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) between $125,000 and $145,000 or between $225,000 and $245,000 for joint filers. The existing MAGI phase-outs of $75,000 to $95,000 or $150,000 to $170,000 for joint filers still apply to purchases on or before Nov. 6, 2009.

This article is not intended to cover all the rules, but give you a few of the highlights. It is very important to fully research this credit before making the assumption you are eligible.